Jobs, Trades, and Skills Training
With one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, many employers worry that a shortage of workers will stifle business growth in New Hampshire. As baby boomers retire, there is a growing demand for health care workers, in particular. Technology companies also need more skilled employees.
There are several approaches to attracting a skilled workforce to New Hampshire: offering tuition assistance, easing licensing rules, increasing affordable housing, and so on. This article looks at programs designed to train more workers in specific fields.
Public programs in NH
The federal government provides funding for the state Office of Workforce Opportunity to oversee workforce development in New Hampshire. The office brings together businesses, nonprofits, various state agencies, and state and local elected officials to coordinate services for job-seekers and employers.
The following are some of the biggest training programs in New Hampshire to increase readiness for certain fields.
- The Office of Workforce Opportunity On-the-Job Training Program uses federal funds to reimburse employers for up to 50 percent of a new employee’s wages while that employee goes through training.
- The reimbursement period can last as long as six months.
- The employer must hire the worker as a regular full-time employee after training is completed.
New Hampshire Job Training Fund
Although they have similar names, there are important differences between On-the-Job Training and the New Hampshire Job Training Fund.
- The Job Training Fund is available for new or current employees.
- Employers must match any Job Training Fund grant.
- The grant can only be spent on the cost of training, not employee wages.
- The Job Training Fund is supported by state unemployment taxes, not federal grants.
Note: the Job Training Fund is being replaced by the Job Training Program in January 2020. The two programs are largely similar.
WorkReadyNH is a program that falls under the Job Training fund. This program addresses workers’ readiness in the areas of math, reading, and “soft skills” like workplace behavior and teamwork.
WorkReadyNH is offered to unemployed and underemployed New Hampshire residents at New Hampshire’s seven community college campuses as well as the Advanced Technology and Academic Center in Rochester.
Return to Work
- The Return to Work program allows individuals to continue to collect unemployment benefits while participating in a six-week, unpaid training program at a company.
- The company must have a full-time or part-time (no less than 20 hours) opening for which they are training the individual.
- The company is not required to hire the trainee at the end of six weeks.
Mature Worker Program
The Mature Worker Program is a pilot program offered by New Hampshire Employment Security. The program offers case management services and job search workshops and job training to people who are:
- 55 years old or older
- Currently unemployed
- Seeking full-time work
Partnerships between public educators and private employers
Companies that have participated in these kinds of programs include Sig Sauer, General Electric, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and more.
Private initiatives in NH
At the end of 2016 the Business and Industry Association (BIA) of New Hampshire and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation (NHCF) announced the Workforce Accelerator 2025 initiative. Through Workforce Accelerator 2025, the BIA and NHCF will encourage the creation of career pathways from education programs to employers. The program has a specific goal of 65 percent of New Hampshire adults having degrees and high-value credentials by 2025.
More funding for training programs?
While New Hampshire does not control how much federal grant funding it gets for workforce development (about $8.7 million in 2018), state funding for the Job Training Fund caps at $2 million a year. (That funding will rise to $6 million starting in 2020.) State support for Career and Technical Education (CTE) centers, community colleges, and public universities may also indirectly fund career pathways. Some legislators would like the state to spend more of its money on any of these existing programs, or develop new state-level programs without the restrictions of federal funding.
“NH should invest more state funds in training programs for certain fields.”
- Federal grant funding often comes with many restrictions on who may qualify for training. Any state-funded and state-run program has more flexibility to match workers and employers with training programs.
- For certain health care fields, the shortage of trained workers doesn’t just threaten the economy – it threatens the welfare and safety of New Hampshire’s aging residents who have increasing needs for care.
- By investing in job training programs, the state is increasing the earning potential of individuals and helping businesses grow, which boosts the economy and future tax revenue overall.
- Due to a very low unemployment rate in recent years, New Hampshire has been accumulating money from unemployment taxes. The state should invest those dollars in the workforce rather than letting the money sit in a trust fund.
"NH should not invest more state funds in training programs for certain fields."
- During a 2017 debate over expanding the Job Training Fund, Sen. John Reagan said more than once, “I have never met a person who got a job through a government job training program.”
- The state already has many training programs in place to match prospective employees and employers.
- If private employers need more workers, they already have the ability to work with public education institutions and workers to create training programs. The Workforce Accelerator 2025 initiative is an example of business leaders stepping in to match employers and employees without the government.
- Increasing state investment in job training could end up depleting the unemployment trust fund, leading to an increase in the unemployment tax. New Hampshire already has one of the highest unemployment tax burdens in the U.S. Saddling employers with higher unemployment taxes, even for job training, would ultimately slow job growth.