Federal funding is available through the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Department called the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA). Here's what you need to know.

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Van Church, Lead Installer, Statement Hardwood Flooring, Holladay, Utah 

I first heard of this program through Kyle Hedin’s Floor Academy Mastermind group in the bi-weekly meeting from group member Erin Albrecht, owner, J&R Tile in Texas. She spoke about her experiences with the federal funding program via the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act and some of the success she experienced. So, I looked into what Utah had to offer for my business. 

The Utah program is called On-the-Job Training (OJT) through the Utah Department of Workforce Services. Utah has a pool of potential candidates that employers can access. When a potential candidate shows interest in one of the jobs available through the state program, they are interviewed. Then, the interested company performs an interview to see if it will be a good fit or not. Having a good interview system in place is important. You must ask the right questions and also look at how the person is presenting themselves. After all, this person will be representing your business/brand. 

The program process for Utah works like this: you hire the candidate and put them on your payroll. Once that is done, the employee is responsible for turning in a time card to their coordinator at the state. A check is then processed and sent out to cover half of the wages that they earned. Any overtime falls on the business since the program is based on a 40-hour work week. Once the checks are sent to our company, those wages go toward payroll and employee taxes.  

This is also a great time to talk a little about how these wages help. We all know that training costs money no matter the position. It is not required, but it is important to have some kind of training guide and not just shoot from the hip. This will help you with your own accountability for what needs to be done and how that employee can succeed. Conversely, the guidelines are in place to hold them accountable for what needs to be done each day or for a specific task. 

This has been a great avenue for us to onboard more employees. There are some good and bad that comes from this. In our first experience, we had issues with everything from the employee not being on time to the employee not paying attention to details of the work being performed, causing us to have to fix mistakes. Does this discourage me from continuing this program? No. It does, however give me things to watch for in the next candidate that we onboard. Again, having a good employee handbook and clear training guidelines will help with the onboarding process to help you gauge whether or not you have found a valuable crew member or when things just aren’t going to be a good fit. 

This one program is only the start. There are other programs that are available. There are programs for the homeless, refugees, youth, military, even lower risk individuals coming out of jail or prison. These programs can be found in your local state/county unemployment office. There are so many great opportunities that can be looked into to help grow your company and build a strong company culture. The goal, of course, is to end up with individuals who want to be promoted and move up in your business. With these programs, not only do you have the potential to grow your business, but you also get the possibility of lifelong employees who are going to help you set your business up for success because you were willing to take a chance on them when they didn’t think anyone else would.    

Erin Albrecht_300x300.jpgErin Albrecht, Owner, J&R Tile, San Antonio, Texas 

Federal funding is available through the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Department called the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA). The WIOA was signed into law on July 22, 2014. WIOA is designed to help jobseekers access employment, education, training and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy. This is available in all 50 states in every geographic area. 

The programs vary from state to state. In San Antonio, we are able to onboard employees for 12 weeks with no cost to J&R Tile through Alamo Workforce Solutions, who receives the federal funds through Texas Workforce Commission. We train these individuals and use this as a probationary period of employment to meet certain competencies, both hands-on and technical (book work). We use the National Tile Contractors Association’s NTCA University for the curriculum. 

The employee must not work over 40 hours per week and is paid through the local state agency receiving the funds directly to the employee candidate. This candidate for employment may also receive bus passes, fuel cards and any other assistance to ensure they are successfully transitioning into a career path. They are also assigned a case manager you turn hours into weekly for payroll purposes. 

You will meet with a representative from your local office. Have your business’s EIN/W9 info, a job description, and an employee handbook ready, and show a path for growth.  

There is no catch. You need to have structure and a career path for the entry-level employee, which I believe is a must for any successful business for new employees. The whole concept is long-term employment for the candidate, and a three-month on-the-job training program for your business. 

A quick internet search for your city, town, or county/shire with “workforce solutions” or “WIOA” in your search engine will yield results. 

Listen to the Floor Academy podcast "You Don't Have to Pay Your Employees" where Albrecht and Church talk more about this topic with host Kyle Hedin.