In today’s competitive economy, the companies that win have a well-trained staff. But it is hard to be a winning company if you are spending your company’s profits training your employees. How does a company balance its need for profitability with the need to train its employees? This article will detail how workforce development grants can play a role in helping you deliver a more affordable, and effective, training experience.
The Cost of Training Employees
Let’s look at some of the costs associated with training:
- Developing curriculum for internal training *– Some companies, either due to the proprietary nature of their work or a mentality that internal subject matter experts are the best teachers, choose to develop and delivery training internally. Curriculum development, however, is a time-consuming task for a Learning and Development Department or, more commonly, for the trainer herself.
- Training delivery time – If a trainer is a company employee, he needs to be paid for the hours he is delivering the training. If the company hires an external trainer, the training firm is charging the company to deliver the curriculum.
- Instructor travel *– Unless there is one company location where all employees and the trainer reside, there is likely to be travel associated with the training. This is often charged to the company conducting the training, and can be expensive depending on the instructor travel required.
- Curriculum materials *– Most training courses have a presentation or a manual. It costs time and money to print the materials and, in some cases, ship them to the company conducting the training.
- Training equipment * – Some courses require equipment to provide hands on training to the trainees. This equipment, often used as a course aid, can be bulky and expensive to ship. Some of this equipment is custom fabricated to the need of the trainees and the design/build process can also be expensive.
- Trainees’ time * – Employees taking the training are being paid to do so, and, depending on the size of the group and the hourly wages of employees, the cost can be very expensive. In addition, productivity is lost during the time employees are being trained.
* These costs are often hidden or unrecognized as costs associated with doing training.
So, how does a company maintain profitability in the face of the costs of training employees? This is where workforce development grants come in.
Where Do Workforce Development Grants Come From?
As discussed in my last article, workforce development grants come from sources in the state in which the training is conducted. Training grants can by managed by a department within the state (usually the Economic Development department) or by regional entities associated with federal funding (Workforce Opportunity Innovation Act offices or Job Centers).
Company and trainee eligibility differs by the source of the funding. State led funding efforts are often targeted at certain occupations, geography (rural vs urban for example) or to career pathway activities, such as work-based learning or apprenticeships. Funding through WIOA or Job Centers is often targeted to individuals who are at risk for layoff, who are new to a company, or to certain underserved or disadvantaged trainee categories (veteran, women, minority, etc).
How to Maximize the Use of Workforce Development Grants
The keys to maximizing the use of workforce development grants (which will directly lead to increased training ROI and increased profitability through expense reduction) are as follows:
- Plan your training well – Having a well thought out training plan will ensure you match the available sources of funding with your training activities and have the information ready to apply for those grants. I often recommend that clients come up with at least a six-month training matrix that lists each training topic, duration of each training program, training resource (for internal, the employee training; for external, the external trainer), and the cost (be sure to consider all the costs listed above). In Excel, you can put this information on the top row and a list of employees in the first column then have each department supervisor indicate which employees will participate in each training course.
- Develop standardized materials – Developing a standardized training sign-in sheet and a method for collecting training invoices and internal costs will pay dividends when you incorporate workforce development grants into your training strategy. This doesn’t have to be fancy. An Excel file and folders to store invoices and training documents and sign-in sheets are really all that is needed.
- Keep your eye out for new and continuing training grants – You can set up a Google alert to stay on top of new or continuing training grants. If you belong to a trade association, they may announce workforce development grants through their organization or others. The sooner you can find out about new training grant opportunities, the more prepared you will be to submit a winning application.
- Make sure trainees are eligible for funding – When you find a funding opportunity, read through the entire Request for Proposals very carefully. State funding sources, for example, may only cover training for certain worker categories, job titles or education levels.
If you have an active workforce development strategy, congratulations! Again, companies that win in today’s competitive market have well-trained and efficient staff. If you are overwhelmed by the idea of incorporating grants into your strategy, but excited at the prospect, contact me! I am happy to discuss our Training Grant Consulting service with you in more detail!