Help! Help! My Employees Need Training

Lisa BoganySmall businesses are the backbone of the Gulf Coast business community. Often looked over, these 82,000+ employers, face the same labor force problems as large employers. How do I increase retention? How do I afford training in this economy? Are there any programs that can help? I have good news. Yes, there is “someone” looking out for the small business owner. Who may this hero be?

The Skills for Small Business program just may be your super hero. It aims to assist local businesses, with 99 or fewer employees, in obtaining the training needed by its employees and in obtaining training that will benefit and enhance the businesses’ operations. Let’s look at it a little closer.

Program Provisions

• Employers are granted tuition and fees up to $1,450 per newly hired employee per 12 month period and up to $725 per incumbent employee per 12 month period.

• An employee may take more than one course during a 12 month period as long as they do not exceed the granted tuition amount.

• A newly hired employee is defined as one who was hired within the three months prior to the submission of the application by the employer. All other employees will be considered incumbents.

• Training may focus on specific occupations and industries, including Aerospace and Defense, Advanced Technologies and Manufacturing, Biotechnology and Life Science, Energy, Petroleum Refining and Chemical Products, and Information and Computer Technology.

• There is no requirement for business owners to provide matching funds or make an in-kind contribution.

• Businesses are not restricted from leveraging this funding with other grants or funding sources.

Program Restrictions

• Participating employees must be employed in a full-time, regular position.

• Employers are required to pay the prevailing wages in the Gulf Coast region for trainees funded under the grant.

• Training must be provided by a public community or technical college, or the Texas Engineering Extension Service.

• Training must be selected from active course catalogs/schedules, including, credit, continuing education, online, or other available unpublished courses.

• Books, course materials and supplies, testing and certification fees, and costs associated with registration for credit courses are examples of costs that will not be funded. Any course tuition and fees that exceed the allowable amount within a 12-month period must be paid by for the business or other funding source.

• Private non-profits, community-based organizations, publicly funded entities and other public non-profits are not considered private businesses and are not eligible. Private non-profit hospitals are excluded from this rule.

So, in this time when it seems like there is more Kryptonite than silver bullets, The Skills for Small Businesses program may be your Wonder Woman. Employers interested in applying for this grant should contact their Workforce Solutions’ Business Consultant or our Employer Services Division at (713) 688-6890 or

Lisa Bogany is a Senior Business Consultant for Workforce Solutions in the Houston metropolitan area. She has over five years of experience in workforce development, primarily working with employers, and over 10 years experience in small business entrepreneurship.

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