Cape May County sends it workers back to school

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Program with college aimed at training tomorrow’s managers

CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — County government has joined with the community college on a program aimed at preparing county employees for advancement.

The goal of the Management Leadership Program is for county employees to replace retirees who have held middle to upper management positions, said Michael Laffey, the county director of operations. The program is led by county employees, and an instructor through an agreement with Atlantic Cape Community College’s continuing education division.

“This program – started by the county in 2013 – focuses on how county government operates. It is part of our plan for sustainability,” Cape May County Freeholder Director Gerald Thornton said in a prepared statement. “We believe it is important to invest in our employees to ensure that they are properly trained so that they are prepared for future advancement opportunities in county government.”

The employees learn how the county budget is produced and about purchasing supplies and services for the county.

Meanwhile, classes at Atlantic Cape Community College in Middle Township focus on transition to supervision, management/supervisory skills and managing employee performance and coaching.

“Basically, it’s just a continuing education program,” Laffey said.

The program is in its third week of the third session, as of Friday, March 28. Students meet each Thursday for four hours, as part of their workday.

The county sends on average 20 employees to the Management Leadership Program, and so far around 60 people have been in or are in the program, Laffey said. A committee chooses which employees qualify for the program. Most often, the participating employees are recommended by a department head.

The Cape May County Board of Freeholders recently approved paying $6,400 to Atlantic Cape for the management/supervisory development program, beginning March 13 and continuing for eight weeks. The portion of the program taught by the county government comes at no cost, he said.

Laffey took part in Management Leadership Program when he was the county parks and zoo director. He took over as county director of operations last year.

“I got a lot out of the program,” Laffey said.

“There are many benefits of this program for both the county and employees,” Thornton said. “The county will be better prepared for the future by developing a plan for advancement within each department and for our employees it boosts morale and gives them the confidence they need to lead.”

Employees receive a certificate for taking part in the program and continuing education units. They are also recognized at Cape May County Board of Freeholder meetings.

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