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Guaranteed Free Training Funds Available Through College


Pennsylvania College of Technology has once again received an allotment of workforce-development funding to train workers for Pennsylvania companies.

Applications for Guaranteed Free Training funds for the 2002-03 fiscal year from the state Department of Community and Economic Development can be accessed through the Technology Transfer Center at Penn College, the local Workforce and Economic Development Network of Pennsylvania partner. An initial application period will take place through July 15.

Larry L. Michael, associate dean for technology transfer at Penn College, said the College is currently administering more than $3.4 million in Guaranteed Free Training funding for Pennsylvania companies to train more than 23,500 employees. Now in its fourth year, the Guaranteed Free Training program was designed by DCED to strengthen the business environment in the state.

Originally funded for $9 million for basic skills training in 1999, the program includes $21.5 million for basic skills and information-technology training in 2002. To date, more than 2,500 Pennsylvania businesses have received more than $50 million worth of training to improve the skill level of nearly 100,000 employees.

“These workforce-development funds have allowed many businesses to train staff in technologies that they would not otherwise have been able to afford,” said Heather Baldwin, WEDnetPA Coordinator for the TTC. “Through this program, Pennsylvania is meeting its objective of keeping local industries and the workforce competitive in the global marketplace. The program does not require any matching funds, and the application process is simple.”

Eligible businesses must be based in Pennsylvania or have a significant presence in the state. Point-of-sale retail businesses; employment agencies; training vendors; and government, education and nonprofit entities are ineligible. Participation is limited to two consecutive years or three out of five years.

To receive the training, employees must reside and be employed in Pennsylvania. They must be permanent full-time employees, earn at least 150 percent of minimum wage (excluding benefits) and remain with the company for 180 days following the training.

Basic skills training includes the teaching of a variety of fundamental skills needed for success in the workplace. To qualify for basic skills training, employers must be manufacturing- or technology-based businesses, including biotech and environmental-tech companies. The company may apply for funding for any number of eligible employees up to $450 per employee and $100,000 per fiscal year (July 1 to June 30). Employees must be front-line employees or first-level supervisors with no policy- or decision-making authority.

On-the-job, sales, and orientation training do not qualify for the basic skills program, and the funds cannot be used to address workplace literacy needs. Examples of basic skills training include: communication and teamwork, applied mathematics and measurement, workplace health and safety, problem-solving, quality assurance, and manufacturing fundamentals.

Information-technology training includes the teaching of a variety of high-tech skills to succeed in the workplace. Employees participating in the training must be new or current technical workers, information-technology professionals, or front-line employees and first-level supervisors of manufacturing companies needing applied-manufacturing technology training. Any number of eligible employees can be trained for up to $700 per employee and $50,000 per fiscal year.

Introductory information-technology, introductory applied manufacturing, and sales-training courses are not eligible for the information technology-training program. Some of the training elements offered include applied-manufacturing technology, e-business/commerce, Web-site design and development, software engineering, and computer programming.

The program includes both instructor-led and e-learning courses that can be taken on-site at the company, at a training provider or at another convenient location. Company in-house training is permitted.

Only WEDnetPA member institutions can process applications, and they are responsible for determining instructor qualifications.

WEDnetPA is a partnership of 35 community colleges, universities and technical-education providers throughout Pennsylvania, formed to implement the Guaranteed Free Training program and other education and training initiatives.

Information about the Guaranteed Free Training program, including basic skills training and information-technology training, can be obtained by contacting Baldwin at (570) 327-4775, by e-mail or by visiting the Penn College WEDnetPA site.

Information can also be obtained by visiting the statewide WEDnetPA Web site.

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