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By SHAINA STOCKTON
Valley On-The-Job Training, a program offered by the New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Investment Board, will help find jobs for people who are capable of working in manufacturing or healthcare, but may lack a skill or two they could learn quickly.
The program seeks to offer more employment opportunity, while protecting the financial security of potential employers.
The program was introduced at a Crossroads Institute event on Dec. 13, which was attended by the Twin County Employer Advisory Committee and The Society for Human Resource Management.
Program Specialist Jennifer Reedy presented the program as a way to provide new windows of opportunity to people who are seeking jobs in the area.
“The grants offered by the program will provide money to help employers hire people,” said Reedy.
Employers who specialize in healthcare or manufacturing are eligible to receive help from this program.
The grant assists employers in hiring applicants who are capable of work, but may be lacking one or more specific skills that are needed for the job. The employee is hired on and training is provided for them to learn the skills they need while they are working.
During this time, a portion of the person’s pay is reimbursed through the grant to the employer.
Reimbursement rates depend upon the size of the business, Reedy said. A business with more than 250 employees could receive up to 50 percent reimbursement, while businesses with fewer than 50 employees could receive up to 90 percent reimbursement. Variable rates with reductions in reimbursements made over time are also negotiable.
This way, the employee is able to earn a paycheck while completing the training program, and the employer risks less financially.
Reedy said the process is simple. “You write out the agreement and include what that person needs to learn and how long it will take, then every 30 days you send in an invoice. Then, we send you a check."
To qualify for the program, both the employer and the job seeker must meet a series of requirements.
Those who are seeking a job must be considered long-term unemployed. Possible scenarios that qualify an individual for this includes:
• Someone who has been without a job for 27 weeks or more, who is able to work, and who is able to provide documentation of Unemployment Insurance eligibility
• Someone who lost their job during the recent recession (Jan. 1, 2008, forward), and who has exhausted their unemployment benefits.
• Someone who has not yet reconnected with a job that provides comparable responsibility and pay
• Someone who is working part-time jobs when they want a full-time job, or who has become discouraged and has stopped looking for a job.
Additional requirements include having either a high school diploma or GED, along with post-secondary education and/or work experience, and being eligible to work in the United States.
Any man born after 1960 must also be registered with Selective Service.
For the employer, the requirements include:
• Resources for training the employee (some outside supplemental training is available)
• Healthy and safe working conditions
• Workers compensation or accident insurance coverage
• Payroll and recording keeping systems
• Payment of employer wage taxes
• Appropriate training and supervision of participants
• No evidence of discrimination or other unlawful practices in hiring or training
As for the job itself, Reedy explained that the position must be full-time, and that the training plan must take from one to 12 months to complete.
“The skill has to be something that actually qualifies some training,” she said.