Workplace Matters column by Jim Skees
Reprinted with permission from The News Enterprise July 17, 2014
Just as most businesses do not find instant success, a new employee won’t hit full capacity on the first day on the job. Hiring and training a new employee takes time and, for some companies, training new employees presents an expense that might slow growth.
The Lincoln Trail Workforce Investment Board and Kentucky Career Center-Lincoln Trail are working to show companies — large and small — how training new employees can be more affordable through On-the-Job Training, a program made possible by the federal Workforce Investment Act.
The program reimburses an employer 50 percent of a new employee’s wages — up to $5,000 — during the training period, which can last up to six months. Small businesses may qualify for greater reimbursement rates — 75 or 90 percent, up to $5,000.
Designed as a training option for skilled, in-demand jobs, the program caters to employers that meet certain criteria and intend to provide full-time, permanent employment at the end of the training period.
Kentucky Career Center-Lincoln Trail works with employers to identify job seekers eligible for Workforce Investment Act programs, and the employer hires an applicant just as they normally would.
In the Lincoln Trail region — which covers Breckinridge, Grayson, Hardin, LaRue, Marion, Meade, Nelson and Washington counties — OJT has helped 11 businesses and 95 employees in the last year, reimbursing more than $417,000 for trainee wages.
At Montebello Packaging in Lebanon, the program has not only been rewarding financially but it has helped improve training methods at the plant as well, said Rebecca Greenwell, human resources assistant manager.
Since February 2013, the plant has trained 25 employees through OJT. It has been reimbursed more than $75,000.
Most of those jobs have been for line technicians at the plant, where aluminum tubes for pharmaceutical and cosmetic products and aerosol cans are manufactured. Montebello needs mechanically skilled employees who are able to troubleshoot and adjust machines and perform basic maintenance. Training can take from one month to six months.
Along the way, a member of the Career Center team conducts interviews with employees and provides feedback to the company. Greenwell noted this has helped Montebello Packaging develop stronger training programs.
Kentucky Career Center-Lincoln Trail staff also can help companies find talent for their high-demand jobs.
Most of the OJT activity in the Lincoln Trail region has been in manufacturing, an industry in which we see great opportunity. Many of these trainees are learning new skill sets to work with automated equipment or robotics, and it’s expertise that will help them throughout their careers.
It’s also important to consider that the support and reimbursements can greatly impact small businesses, possibly providing those companies the boost they need to create jobs.
Another benefit of OJT that can’t be overlooked is its easy administration. There is very little paperwork to get started and the reimbursement process is straightforward.
Simply put, OJT helps an employer gain an employee who comes into the workplace ready to learn the relevant skills needed to succeed. It’s a win for the employer and a win for the employee.
The first step for an employer is to determine if an open job qualifies for OJT. For example, OJT is not intended for seasonal work and jobs must meet minimum pay requirements.
For more information or to determine eligibility, contact the Kentucky Career Center-Lincoln Trail at any of its four offices in Bardstown, Elizabethtown, Lebanon and Leitchfield.
Jim Skees is the business liaison for Lincoln Trail Area Development District and regional business services team lead for Kentucky Career Center–Lincoln Trail. He can be reached at 270-769-2393 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about on-the-job training, contact the Kentucky Career Center–Lincoln Trail.
Elizabethtown Career Center
Bardstown Career Center
Leitchfield Career Center
Lebanon Career Center
Workplace Matters column by Jim Skees