North Carolina will add a new type of targeted workforce training grant to the state’s economic development toolkit, Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders announced today. Up to $1 million will be available to fund grants during the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
The NCWorks Commission, North Carolina’s workforce development board, approved a policy creating the NC Job Ready Workforce Investment Grants during its quarterly meeting, held earlier today at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. The grant program will be open to local workforce development boards, which in turn support employers in their areas.
“As we continue to align economic development with workforce development, NC Job Ready Workforce Investment Grants will demonstrate to businesses around the world that North Carolina places a high value on talent,” said Secretary Sanders. “We look forward to working with NCWorks partners on this innovative grant program, and we encourage all employers to collaborate with NCWorks on recruiting and training.”
Each of North Carolina’s 23 local workforce development boards may apply to the Division of Workforce Solutions within the N.C. Department of Commerce for NC Job Ready Workforce Investment Grants in conjunction with economic development projects. A grant of up to $50,000 per project can support On-the-Job Training (OJT) and Incumbent Worker Training (IWT) to assist companies that choose to locate or expand in North Carolina.
OJT provides a partial wage reimbursement to an employer to help offset the cost of training new employees. IWT grants help pay for upskilling employees who have worked at a company for six months or more.
“North Carolina is globally competitive for many reasons, but chief among them are our diverse, talented people and our ability to train workers with the skills that meet the demands of employers,” said Christopher Chung, chief executive officer of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. “Since workforce is consistently the top priority of businesses considering where to relocate or expand, this new grant program positions North Carolina for continued success.”
These new grants will be in addition to the current OJT and IWT programs that local workforce development boards offer on a regular basis to eligible local employers through the NCWorks system. Other ongoing workforce-related incentives include the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), a federal tax credit available to employers who hire qualified individuals from eligible target groups, and Federal Bonding, a program that provides free individual fidelity bonds to employers when they hire people who traditionally have had difficulty finding meaningful employment.
“The NCWorks Commission strongly supports this new approach to help employers solve common challenges that they may face related to skills gaps or workforce shortages,” said Commission chair Tom Rabon. “NC Job Ready Workforce Investment Grants, along with the customized training offered by the North Carolina Community College System, highlight North Carolina’s commitment to help companies find and train the employees they need in order to be successful.”
These Workforce Investment Grants are part of Governor Cooper’s NC Job Ready workforce initiative, which is built on three core principles: skills and education attainment so that North Carolinians are ready for jobs available now and in the future, employer leadership to remain relevant to evolving industry needs, and local innovation to take great ideas and apply them statewide.