Find qualified candidates to help your business thrive.
One of the greatest challenges that a business faces is finding and training a skilled workforce. But did you know that government grants are available to help defray the cost of employee training and development? The trick is to track down the resources that are aimed specifically at your industry or region, or the positions you need to fill. Here are some practical tips for finding programs that may work for you.
The federal government provides most of the grant money available to businesses, but it is usually managed at the state and local level. Under the Federal Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA), programs identified and developed with the help of private-sector employers are administered by state and local Workforce Investment Boards (WIB) and One-Stop Career Centers, often in concert with vocational schools and community colleges. You can find your local WIB at servicelocator.org/wibcontacts (specific programs vary by state and even by locality). Programs at Pittsburgh-based Three Rivers Work Investment Board (trwib.org), for example, include reimbursement (up to 50% of wages during training) for on-the-job training (OJT). The board also supplies a pool of eligible, pre-screened job candidates.
Know the Rules
Of course, funding is not simply available for the taking. Your state may establish a list of high-priority occupations--Pennsylvania lists over 200 such positions, from computer software engineers to bakers--to which resources are directed. Since these lists are developed in partnership with the private sector, you may be able to submit a petition for the inclusion of key jobs to your local or state WIB. Additionally, programs have specific rules about pay rates, replacement of laid-off workers, time in business and more. Three Rivers' OJT program requires that participating businesses hire trainees as regular, full-time employees and pay them salaries commensurate with others doing similar work.
Broaden Your Search
If you can't find a good fit with your local WIA, you may have success tracking down grants directly from the federal government or your state, though it will require some digging. At the federal level, start with the Department of Labor's Business Relations Group (BRG, doleta.gov/etainfo/brg.cfm), which is focused specifically on serving employers. Not only can BRG representatives help you pinpoint relevant programs, they can also put you on notification lists for future opportunities.
Government-training grant programs are a win-win situation all around: Your community gets new jobs targeted toward growth industries, and you get highly skilled and motivated workers at a welcome discount.
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