In an effort to match the demands of employers with skilled job-seekers, the Middle Georgia Consortium is partnering with the Putnam Development Authority to create a funding package to help local residents with job training.
Business Service Specialist/Grant Writer Amy Varnum and Janie Reid, career facilitator for Work-Source, gave a presentation June 12 to inform PDA board members of opportunities available through the Consortium to help with workforce development.
“What we have to offer is Workforce Development dollars,” said Varnum, noting MGC is trying to build a package to go into businesses, either new businesses or old businesses, to make it more attractive when economic development partners go out to bid for companies to bring business to Putnam County.
Using money available through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA), Varnum said, “Our additional funding is money in their pockets.”
States are restricted in what they can do with tax incentives, but MGC can actually pay the company to hire people by paying them to train.
Using Incumbent Worker funds, WIOA allows local boards to use up to 20 percent of their adult and dislocated worker funds to provide for the federal share of the cost of providing training. Designed to meet special requirements of an employer to retain a skilled workforce, through the WIOA, Varnum explained Consortium representatives have the ability to help job seekers 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.
Employers participating in incumbent worker training are required to pay a “match amount,” which is the non-WIOA (non-federal) share of the cost of providing training to their incumbent workers.
Previously geared more towards the individual, a law passed in 2014 at the federal level moved that money more toward workforce development, which means more businesses can get involved.
“As more businesses get on board and maintain a flow, economic development authorities will be able to go into a business and be creative enough to mold what that business needs to fit the funding stream,” said Varnum.
“There is money currently available that can be utilized, and the businesses don’t really know about it.”
With a lot of county crossover, as some residents who live in other counties may work in Putnam and some Putnam County residents may work in other counties, qualification for funding is based on the resident, not the company.
Concentrated primarily to skilled positions, the company has to have been in business for at least six months and can’t have laid-off any employee for at least six months.
Explaining how the procedure works, Varnum said, for new-hires if someone is qualified, the company can get up to half the training wages reimbursed.
Noting the Consortium is pushing people’s thinking past the probationary period, Varnum said, “It’s a three-year plan and we’re going to follow them for three years. If it’s a six month position that takes six months to be proficient, then we reimburse for six months. It’s all based on how long it takes to train to be proficient in that job.”
PDA Board Member Bill Sharp asked, “Who determines how long it takes to be proficient?”
Varnum said the Consortium uses a department of labor tool, which gives job descriptions, along with work skills and abilities for a position then gives a code which advises how long to train for that position.
Noting that the program would benefit several local companies, Sharp mentioned Vizitech, which is a new business in Putnam County.
“This is something I think they would be interested in because they are growing,” he said.
“And if it takes eight months to train, with a 50 percent reimbursement, that is a chunk of savings, especially for them because they are very high-paying jobs,” said Varnum.
Note: On May 30, 2012, National Labor Relations Board Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon issued his third report on social media cases brought to the agency. The report detailed seven cases involving policies governing the use of social media by employees. The below policy was found to be lawful under the National Labor Relations Act.
At [Employer], we understand that social media can be a fun and rewarding way to share your life and opinions with family, friends, and co-workers around the world. However, use of social media also presents certain risks and carries with it certain responsibilities. To assist you in making responsible decisions about your use of social media, we have established these guidelines for appropriate use of social media. This policy applies to all associates who work for [Employer], or one of its subsidiary companies in the United States ([Employer]). Managers and supervisors should use the supplemental Social Media Management Guidelines for additional guidance in administering the policy.
In the rapidly expanding world of electronic communication, social media can mean many things. Social media includes all means of communicating or posting information or content of any sort on the Internet, including to your own or someone else’s web log or blog, journal or diary, personal web site, social networking or affinity web site, web bulletin board, or a chat room, whether or not associated or affiliated with [Employer], as well as any other form of electronic communication.
The same principles and guidelines found in [Employer] policies and three basic beliefs apply to your activities online. Ultimately, you are solely responsible for what you post online. Before creating online content, consider some of the risks and rewards that are involved. Keep in mind that any of your conduct that adversely affects your job performance, the performance of fellow associates, or otherwise adversely affects members, customers, suppliers, people who work on behalf of [Employer] or [Employer’s] legitimate business interests may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.
Know and follow the rules
Carefully read these guidelines, the [Employer] Statement of Ethics Policy, the [Employer] Information Policy and the Discrimination & Harassment Prevention Policy, and ensure your postings are consistent with these policies. Inappropriate postings that may include discriminatory remarks, harassment, and threats of violence or similar inappropriate or unlawful conduct will not be tolerated and may subject you to disciplinary action up to and including termination.
Always be fair and courteous to fellow associates, customers, members, suppliers, or people who work on behalf of [Employer]. Also, keep in mind that you are more likely to resolve work related complaints by speaking directly with your co-workers or by utilizing our Open Door Policy than by posting complaints to a social media outlet. Nevertheless, if you decide to post complaints or criticism, avoid using statements, photographs, video or audio that reasonably could be viewed as malicious, obscene, threatening, or intimidating, that disparage customers, members, associates or suppliers, or that might constitute harassment or bullying. Examples of such conduct might include offensive posts meant to intentionally harm someone’s reputation or posts that could contribute to a hostile work environment on the basis of race, sex, disability, religion, or any other status protected by law or company policy.
Be honest and accurate
Make sure you are always honest and accurate when posting information or news, and if you make a mistake, correct it quickly. Be open about any previous posts you have altered. Remember that the Internet archives almost everything; therefore, even deleted postings can be searched. Never post any information or rumors that you know to be false about [Employer], fellow associates, members, customers, suppliers, people working on behalf of [Employer], or competitors.
Post only appropriate and respectful content
- Maintain the confidentiality of [Employer] trade secrets and private or confidential information. Trades secrets may include information regarding the development of systems, processes, products, know-how, and technology. Do not post internal reports, policies, procedures, or other internal business-related confidential communications.
- Respect financial disclosure laws. It is illegal to communicate or give a "tip" on inside information to others so that they may buy or sell stocks or securities. Such online conduct may also violate the Insider Trading Policy.
- Do not create a link from your blog, website, or other social networking site to a [Employer] website without identifying yourself as a [Employer] associate.
- Express only your personal opinions. Never represent yourself as a spokesperson for [Employer]. If [Employer] is a subject of the content you are creating, be clear and open about the fact that you are an associate and make it clear that your views do not represent those of [Employer], fellow associates, members, customers, suppliers, or people working on behalf of [Employer]. If you do publish a blog or post online related to the work you do or subjects associated with [Employer], make it clear that you are not speaking on behalf of [Employer]. It is best to include a disclaimer such as "The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of [Employer]."
Using social media at work
Refrain from using social media while on work time or on equipment we provide, unless it is work related as authorized by your manager or consistent with the Company Equipment Policy. Do not use [Employer] email addresses to register on social networks, blogs, or other online tools utilized for personal use.
Retaliation is prohibited
[Employer] prohibits taking negative action against any associate for reporting a possible deviation from this policy or for cooperating in an investigation. Any associate who retaliates against another associate for reporting a possible deviation from this policy or for cooperating in an investigation will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
Associates should not speak to the media on [Employer’s] behalf without contacting the Corporate Affairs Department. All media inquiries should be directed to them.
For more information
If you have questions or need further guidance, please contact your HR representative.
The following checklist addresses issues that employers should consider and steps to take before looking into the criminal history of prospective employees.
Step 1: Determine whether a criminal background check is necessary.
- Is the employer subject to state, federal, or local regulations that require criminal background checks?
- Is the employer subject to state, federal, or local laws that limit criminal background checks?
- Does the position the applicant is seeking involve:
- contact with the public?
- working with vulnerable individuals?
- handling money?
- use of a dangerous instrument?
- work involving the public trust?
- Is a union involved? (A collective bargaining agreement may limit the use of criminal background checks.)
- Does a policy of conducting criminal background checks have the potential of discouraging qualified applicants or disproportionately affecting protected minority groups?
Step 2: Develop a process for conducting criminal background checks.
- Are applicants informed in writing that a criminal background check will be conducted?
- Are applicants asked to sign a consent or release in connection with criminal background checks?
- Are applicants informed that an arrest or a record of conviction will not necessarily result in denial of employment?
- Has the person who will conduct the check been trained as to the proper process; the agency or vendor to contact, fees to be paid, etc.?
Step 3: Implement the criminal background check process.
- In conducting the criminal background check, have the following criteria been met?
- Have notice and consent requirements been met?
- Is the check being conducted in connection with a position for which a criminal history check is appropriate?
- If the employer is covered by federal or state laws that require or limit criminal history checks, is the check being conducted in compliance with those laws, including relevant time frames?
- Is the process being conducted in a nondiscriminatory fashion (i.e., is the same procedure followed for all applicants for a given job or class of jobs)?
- Before using information obtained in the criminal background check to make an employment decision, have the following criteria been met?
- If the underlying criminal conduct from an arrest record is considered, does that underlying conduct make the person unfit for the position in question?
- If it appears that the applicant engaged in the conduct for which he or she was arrested, is that conduct recent and job-related?
- If conviction records are considered, does the number, nature and recentness of the convictions indicate that the applicant is unsuitable for the position?
- Can a "business necessity" for making the employment decision based on the conviction records be shown?
- Is the information obtained in the criminal background check treated as confidential?
- Is the information obtained in the criminal background check disclosed only on a need to-know basis?
Source: Employer's Guide to Workplace Privacy, Amy L. Greenspan, Aspen Publishers.