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Incumbent Worker Training Program


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE TENNESSEE INCUMBENT WORKER TRAINING PROGRAM?

The purpose of the Incumbent Workforce Development Program (IWT) is to support training that result in either:

  • Lay-off Aversion through skill attainment for employees, or
  • Lay-off Aversion through process improvement that contributes to the competitiveness and productivity of a business.

WHAT IS AN INCUMBENT WORKER?

An incumbent worker is:

  • A paid, full time, employee of the applicant’s business.
  • At least 18 years of age; and
  • A citizen of the United States or a non-citizen whose status permits employment in the United States.
  • For the purpose of these funds, any incumbent worker to be trained must be working at a facility located in Tennessee.

WHAT IS LAY-OFF AVERSION?

A layoff is averted when: 1) a worker’s job is saved with an existing employer where, if training does not occur, may result in a downsizing or closing; or 2) a worker, at risk of dislocation, transitions to a different job with the same employer or a new job with a different employer, and then experiences no, or a minimal spell of unemployment.

HOW TO IDENTIFY LAYOFF RISKS?

Other than the instance of an employer’s layoff announcement, the period leading up to such an announcement is often unknown to those outside the management of a company. By the time a layoff is formally announced or otherwise made public, many options for assisting the company and workers to address threats are no longer feasible. That is why it is important to use the LWIAs and Local Workforce Boards to provide a pro-active approach to layoff aversion by accessing Incumbent Worker Training.

On the other hand, providing publicly-funded training to incumbent workers (who are otherwise ineligible for WIA-funded services) when there is no foreseeable threat of layoffs in the future in order to generally “increase the competitiveness” of the employer/business, would not constitute a “layoff aversion strategy.”



WHAT IS PROCESS IMPROVEMENT?

  • Process improvement refers to training that contributes to the competitiveness and productivity of a business, such as, but not limited to, Lean Manufacturing, ISO Certifications, and Six Sigma.

WHAT IS SKILL ATTAINMENT?

  • Skill attainment refers to incumbent worker training that develops skills that directly benefit the workers receiving the training and that contributes to the company’s competitiveness and productivity thereby averting layoffs;
  • Participants qualifying for a job with changing skill requirements, or for higher paying jobs with their existing employer or other companies in the area;
  • Participants obtaining the skills and knowledge to perform work that is at a higher level than their current positions; and
  • Participants obtaining an industry-recognized certification or credential, or training that provides a significant step towards achieving such credentials that increase the worker’s overall employability.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?

Tennessee for-profit and not-for-profit (health care related) businesses that have been in operation for a minimum of one year prior to the application date, employ at least five full-time employees, are current on all federal and state tax obligations, and are financially viable are eligible to apply.

WHO IS NOT ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?

The following businesses are not eligible to apply for funds under this program:

  • A business currently receiving training funds, either directly or indirectly, from Tennessee state government unless those training funds do not duplicate the training efforts outlined in the project application.
  • A business that has received funds either directly or indirectly from Tennessee State Government under any previous training initiative, and the terms of the agreement for training have not been met.
  • A training provider
  • A LWIA or its administrative entity
  • A government entity
  • A company that has already met its limit ($50,000 for grants awarded after 10/ 1/ 11).
  • Third party organizations are not eligible to apply as a grant recipient.

WHAT KIND OF TRAINING CAN BE FUNDED BY THE IWT?

The following types of training can be funded:

  • Occupational skills-upgrade training designed to meet the special requirements of a business and conducted with employers’ intention to continue to retain all trained individuals upon their successful completion of the training.
  • Training in strategies to improve efficiency of business operations.

An applicant must demonstrate the effect of the proposed training on business operations and must identify the skills upgrades to be acquired by the employees with a layoff aversion strategy. Funds awarded for a project will be expended on training activities that take place only in Tennessee.  Costs associated with conferences will not be allowed.

WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT FOR WHICH A BUSINESS CAN APPY?

IWT funds are limited and are therefore awarded on a competitive basis.  For the year beginning October 1, 2011, the maximum amount is $25,000 per grant, with a funding limit of $50,000.  The business may apply for subsequent grants in subsequent funding years, based on the difference between the amount of a previous grant award(s) (not total expenditures of previous grants) and the funding limit of $50,000. When a company has reached the $50,000 limit it must skip a year before they can reapply.

If a company is awarded an Incumbent Worker Training Grant but is unable to use any of the funds and forfeits the full grant amount, then that grant amount will not count against the total limit for that company.

IS THERE AN EMPLOYER MATCH REQUIRED TO RECEIVE AN IWT GRANT?

Yes. The employer must match at least 50% of the IWT assistance request to receive an IWT grant award. An example of an employer contribution is If the grant award is $25,000 the company must match an additional 50% ($12,500). Refer to the Training Program Budget page of the IWT application.

WHAT OUTCOMES ARE EXPECTED FROM THE IWT GRANT?

When workers lack needed training and businesses experience skill gaps, the company’s ability to compete, expand, and retain workers can be compromised.  Tennessee’s IWT, funded by the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA), addresses such needs.  The specific outcomes of the training through the IWT will avert layoffs by providing skill-attainment opportunities for employees, or avert layoffs through contributing to the competitiveness and productivity of the company.

HOW IS THE IWT ADMINISTERED?

IWT is cooperatively administered through the state’s Local Workforce Investment Area (LWIA) and the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Division of Workforce Services.  Within the framework established through the IWT program and the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), an LWIA may request additional information or establish supplemental provisions and requirements for the training projects.

HOW DOES A BUSINESS SUBMIT AN APPLICATION?

First the business must contact the Local Workforce Investment Area (LWIA), (http://www.state.tn.us/labor-wfd) that administers the Incumbent Worker Training (IWT), in its geographical area. This contact allows the business and the LWIA an opportunity to review the guidelines and eligibility requirements, highlight restrictions, discuss training priorities, understand the cost reimbursement procedures and the application time schedule, and review other procedures and expectations.

Program applications for Tennessee IWT are available on the Tennessee Department of Labor web-site: http://www.state.tn.us/labor-wfd. These documents are also available from LWIA offices.

IS IT REQUIRED THAT THE APPLICANT USE THE APPLICATION PROVIDED?

Yes.  The application is provided in a Word document.  All information is to be provided within the application.  The space will expand to accommodate the information. Please do not include trainer’s resumes or other excess information.  Also, course descriptions and objectives should be summarized within the application.  Incomplete applications will not be considered for review.

IS AN ELECTRONIC SIGNATURE ACCEPTABLE?

No.  Electronic signatures will not be accepted.  All sections requiring a signature must be original, handwritten signatures.

WHAT TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE IS AVAILABLE TO ASSIST THE BUSINESS?

The LWIA staff is available to provide technical assistance throughout the process.

CAN A THIRD PARTY APPLY FOR TRAINING ON BEHALF OF THE BUSINESS?

No. An individual or organization (third party) may assist a business in the application; however, the individual/organization may not be compensated with grant funds.

WHAT CRITERIA IS USED TO REVIEW AND FUND APPLICATIONS?

The application must be reviewed by the Local Workforce Investment Area (LWIA) to ensure that:

  • The application is complete, with all information supplied
  • The proposed training is consistent with local economic and workforce priorities
  • The primary purpose of layoff aversion is met
  • The training is restricted to skill attainment activities or process-improvement training.
  • The application clearly describes the training to be delivered, states the training objectives, and describes how the funds will be used to meet the objectives
  • Any additional criteria required by the LWIA have been submitted.

The LWIA then scores the applications and submits them to the Division of Workforce Services with a letter of recommendation, for final review and selection.  The number of awards approved per round is based on funding availability as determined by the State Workforce Board.

HOW WILL I KNOW IF MY BUSINESS APPLICATION IS APPROVED?

The Local Workforce Investment Area (LWIA) will notify the business of action taken on its application.  The LWIA will begin the process of developing a contract between it and the business. The contract will set forth all processes and expectations for administering, implementing, and completing the training.

Each project will be monitored and evaluated by the LWIA, with outcomes reported to the Division of Workforce Services.

HOW LONG DOES A BUSINESS HAVE TO CONDUCT THE TRAINING?

Training must be completed by December 31st of the program year that the grant was awarded. LWIA’s may require individual start and end dates for each training program activity.
 

CAN THE CONTRACT BE EXTENDED?

No. Contracts cannot be extended past December 31st of the contract (program) year.

WHAT INFORMATION IS A BUSINESS REQUIRED TO SUPPLY TO THE LWIA ABOUT THE EMPLOYEES TO BE TRAINED?

The LWIA will discuss with the business the employee information required for the trainees.  Federal reporting requirements mandate that funded businesses provide the following data for each training participant:

  • Complete Name and Contact Information
  • Gender
  • Date of Birth
  • Citizenship (Right to Work Status)
  • Selective Service Compliance
  • Person with Disability
  • Ethnicity and Race
  • Social Security Number as a condition of reimbursement

ARE ANY REPORTING REQUIREMENTS EXPECTED OF THE BUSINESS?

Yes. The Local Workforce Investment Area (LWIA) will advise and discuss the reporting requirements for the grant award, to include content, documentation to verify 50% match, time frame, and other matters.  A final report on the training is due no later than forty-five (45) days from the end of the training.  This report will be forwarded by the LWIA to the Division of Workforce Services.

APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS:

Contact your Local Workforce Investment Area for assistance with completion of and submitting of application. DETACH and complete the attached IWT Program Application. Any information or documentation that cannot be supplied in the provided space should be identified by the relevant question number and attached to the back of the application form. Submit one original and one copy of the application by mail to your local workforce investment area (LWIA contact).

 

IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT YOU SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION AT LEAST 30 DAYS PRIOR TO THE START OF YOUR TRAINING.

NOTIFICATION OF APPROVAL MUST BE RECEIVED PRIOR TO START OF ANY TRAINING AND A CONTRACT INITIATED WITH THE LWIA.

If you have any questions or need assistance in completing the application, please contact your local workforce area or:

Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development
Patrick Bleecker
Grants Program Manager
(615) 253-1330
patrick.bleecker@tn.gov