Ask any business or plant manager what the organization’s single most important asset is and the answer will invariably be an educated and well-trained workforce. Worker productivity is dictated by job knowledge and the ability to remain motivated and function in a fluid workplace environment. It stands to reason that the ability for companies to access quality training is essential to maintaining profitability.
While hiring a well-trained entry-level workforce and maintaining a skilled employee base are concerns that are consistently expressed by businesses, one of the most pressing challenges that stands in the way is money. Fortunately, incentives to mitigate or minimize training costs are available from a variety of sources.
The impetus behind training incentives is to build a sustainable talent pipeline to foster the continued growth and expansion of our local economy. Training incentives are offered to three basic groups: under/unemployed people seeking first time employment or a career change; entry level manufacturing workers; and incumbent workers across a spectrum of businesses including IT, banking, engineering, health care, manufacturing and other professional services.
A wide range of incentive programs will pay all or a significant portion of training costs. One new incentive program is the South Carolina Job Retraining Tax Credit (E-Zone Program), which allows manufacturing companies located in South Carolina to be reimbursed for qualifying training and education provided to employees. With approval by the State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education, companies may claim a credit of $1,000 per employee credit against withholding taxes. Only companies engaged in manufacturing or processing operations or technology intensive activities at manufacturing, processing, or technology intensive facilities are eligible for reimbursement.
The State Workforce Development Board has approved funding for EvolveSC, which was piloted in 2015 to allow businesses to apply for training grants to upskill the existing workforce. In addition, EvolveSC has provided certificate training for new hires, allowing them to meet entry-level requirements. Grants have been awarded in manufacturing along with healthcare, construction, logistics, transportation, and distribution.
Local agencies work together to provide funding for training. Greenville Technical College (GTC) works with economic development entities including the Upstate Alliance, Greenville Area Development Corporation, the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, and other bodies to learn about the needs of companies interested in an Upstate South Carolina location and to determine how GTC’s curriculum can be adjusted, if needed, to meet their needs. Many of these groups offer training funds for companies and individuals.
Other opportunities for employers to consider are the scholarships and benefits available to the workers as individuals. One such scholarship, funded by Career Skills Now, can provide entry-level manufacturing workers, either from an employer’s current workforce or potential hiring database, with training to obtain certification as a manufacturing production technician. This training focuses on MSSC quality practices and measurements, Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt, OSHA 10-general industry, hands-on lab training and math for manufacturing. This certification can be parlayed into continued training in more advanced skills. These certifications are often a match for local manufacturers looking to up-fit their current and even potential employees with the skills needed to succeed in their local operations. The 90 hour, three-week program is offered at Greenville Technical College or on-site at local employers and has helped companies such as Standard Motor Products and Jarden Plastics meet employment needs.
Veterans and their spouses can also qualify for scholarships for vocational and skilled trades and certificate training. Veteran Scholarships Forever is one such source. This organization establishes veteran scholarships at community and technical colleges for vocational and skilled trades certification training.
About the Author:
Wendy Walden is Associate Vice President for Executive Affairs
Whether you are an employer needing to create or grow your workforce or a job seeker looking for the skills that will allow you to succeed, incentives are available for training and education. For more information, go to http://www.gvltec.edu/CCD/employer-services/