How to find funds for workforce training

How to find funds for workforce training


As Oregon’s recession bottomed out in 2003, Oregon employers faced significant shortages in skilled labor, despite the lower hiring activity of the previous three years. An increasing number of workers retiring with technical experience exacerbated the shortfall in available knowledge. New technologies put further pressure on the less-skilled labor pool.

A task force determined that Oregon lagged behind the rest of the country in public investment in workforce training and that workforce training and development was not connected to Oregon’s engines of economic growth. No coherent statewide strategy existed to combat the problems.

To facilitate better training, Gov. Ted Kulongoski created the Employer Workforce Training Fund (EWTF) in the fall of 2003. The fund, intended to grow and retain a skilled workforce and living-wage jobs in Oregon, assists companies with the cost of training their workers.

The EWTF is a good resource for training Oregon’s private sector workforce. The funds, available on a regional and state level, provide support to companies with a need to train current workers to retain and expand jobs. Regional-based workforce response teams distributed about $3.9 million to Oregon companies each of the last two years. Another $1.2 million was invested annually in statewide workforce training initiatives.

Regional workforce response teams provide a single point-of-contact and connect state resources to local communities.

Each region uses a slightly different application process to award workforce-training funds, with new dollars available each year beginning on July 1. Claire Berger, Oregon’s workforce policy coordinator, expects regional workforce response teams to disburse about $3.6 in matching grants this fiscal year to companies seeking aid with workforce training.

Your company may qualify for workforce training funds.

The award criteria benefit companies in clusters formed around trade-sectors, occupations or skills with shortages, and training necessary to advance a company’s technological capacity or enhance productivity. And while a company must provide matching funds or an equal in-kind contribution to receive the grant funds, no limit exists, apart from budgetary constraints, to the size of an awarded grant.

The awarded funds cannot be used for the recruitment of non-Oregon-based businesses or workers, as wages for trainees, or for the purchase of equipment.

Go to www.oregon.gov/worksource/wrt/index.shtml for further information and resources related to the grant process, including a sample grant application, a boilerplate contract for funding and lessons learned in the grant process

— Robert H. Hamrick

Workforce response teams by county

Columbia, Clatsop and Tillamook
MTC Works
Julie Gassner — 503.325.9511
jgassner(at)mtctrains.com
www.colcenter.org/onestop/

Multnomah and Washington
WorkSystems Inc.
Nancy Davis — 503.478.7356
WRT(at)worksystems.org
www.worksystems.org

Marion, Polk and Yamhill

Enterprise for Employment and Education
Agness Balassa — 503.399.2358
abalassa(at)chemeketa.edu
www.e3board.info

Linn, Benton and Lincoln

Steve Bekofsky — 541.758.2605
region4wib(at)csc.gen.or.us

Lane

Robin Onaclea — 541.686.7736
robino(at)laneworkforce.org
www.laneworkforce.org

Douglas

Helga Conrad
helgac(at)cmspan.net
www.douglasworklinks.net

Coos and Curry

Chris Claflin — 541.267-4651
Chris.claflin(at)state.or.us
www.scbec.org

Jackson and Josephine

Dennis Alexander — 541.776.5100
dennisa(at)jobcouncil.org
www.jobcouncil.org

Baker, Union and Wallowa

Donna Betts — 541. 963.2399
www.neoedd.org

Klamath and Lake

Karen Gail — 541.850.9675
karen.gail(at)workconnection.org
www.workconnection.org

Morrow and Umatilla

Tara Bishop — 541.278.5675
tbishop(at)capeco-works.org
www.capeco-works.org

Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson

Robin Cope — robinc(at)uci.net

Gilliam, Hood River, Sherman, Wasco and Wheeler

Suzanne Burd — 541.506.6123
Sburd(at)cgcc.cc.or.us

Grant, Harney and Malheur

Chad Freeman — 541.575.0251
freec(at)tecteam.org
www.trainingemployment.org

Clackamas

Terri Houde — 503.657.6958
terrih(at)clackamas.edu
www.depts.clackamas.edu/ workforce/about_us.htm