By: Micki Vandeloo
Growth is a good thing but the flip side of growth is equipping your new and current staff to address higher volumes of work. With the low unemployment rate, manufacturers are hiring less skilled workers and training them on the job rather than trying to find an employee with a strong set of required skills (kind of like finding a needle in a haystack).
In addition, as manufacturers find it hard to attract workers, they are also asking for their current workforce to take on more tasks. This generates the need to train current employees to handle a wider variety of tasks.
While the need for increased in-house and outsourced manufacturing skills training is evident, it can also be expensive. If you are hiring someone from the outside, you will often pay the cost for the provider to deliver the class plus any materials they use or equipment they bring for training. If the provider is not local to your facility, you will also have to pay travel costs for that instructor.
If you choose to use in-house experts to conduct training (this is common for on-the-job training), there is a hidden cost associated with the time that instructor/employee is spending doing this training. In addition, you may also still have material costs associated with in-house training.
So, growth is good, but job training to address that growth is expensive. What do you do?
The Job Training Grants Landscape
The good news is that the vast majority of states offer training grants. These can come from a variety of sources:
- The state’s Economic Development Department
- Community colleges
- Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) Centers
Grants typically pay for 50% to 100% of eligible training costs (typically costs for delivery, materials, and associated travel). Many training grants also cover a portion of the cost for an in-house trainer by reimbursing the company for a percentage of the training employee’s hourly wage for the hours they are training other employees.
On-the-job training costs are typically covered by WIOA’s On-The-Job Training funds, which reimburses a percentage of the employee’s wages for a period of time immediately following the beginning of their employment.
In general, both WIOA offices and community colleges will help companies with the application process. Community college grants typically require a shorter application for funding than other training grant applications.
Manufacturers can apply directly for many state-offered economic development training grants. These applications take more time to complete and require information from the company about the training and the participants.
Information Required for Job Training Grant Applications
Job training grant applications generally require the following information:
- The purpose for the training (upskilling, new employee training, etc)
- A short description of the training course(s)
- Information on the instructor (experience, resume)
- The dates each job training course will be offered
- The number of hours of training for each course
- The number of employees taking each course
- The average hourly wage of employees taking each course (or the hourly wage of individual employees taking the course)
- Sometimes, the last 4 digits of each participant’s social security number
The funding agencies do work with manufacturers to answer questions about the application and will sometimes require a site visit to the facility prior to training.
Tips and Tricks for Job Training Grants
Here are some tips to provide you the best chance of getting job training grants:
- I recommend compiling an annual training plan by employee and then submitting a year’s worth of training to the funder, if possible. You don’t want to have to go back repeatedly to ask for more funds.
- Training funding state budgets typically runs on the state’s fiscal year cycle, which is generally July 1-June 30. It is good to get your application in as close to the beginning of the fiscal year as possible.
- Training grants are reimbursement grants. You must conduct the training and then submit any required documentation to the funder. Once you do so, they send you a check for the amount of grant (as long as you met the requirements).
- If you are a training provider, you should know about the training grants available to your clients and help them access those grants (we have done this for Learning and Development organizations nationwide).
In short, growth is a very good thing. After all, if you don’t grow, you die! If you plug into training grants, the cost of growth will not be quite as high.
If you want to know more about training grants or about manufacturing or learning and development funding in general, please contact me. I am happy to have the conversation!