Posted on July 18, 2012
“Investing in our workers, ensuring they have the skills companies need to compete globally, continues to be a key part of our state’s successful economic strategy. The Job Training Fund is ensuring that we have a skilled, educated workforce, which is keeping good jobs right here in New Hampshire,” Governor John Lynch
The New Hampshire Job Training Fund, in collaboration with the Community College System of New Hampshire, focuses on helping businesses train and retain the skilled workers they need to remain a viable New Hampshire business. Since 2007, the state has issued more than $4.6 million in grants to help train over 13,000 current and new workers. In that time, there has only been 13 Sigma-One Members and Zero LISIG Members to take advantage of this state grant. This left us, as your workers’ compensation third party administrator, bewildered. Do our Members just not know the funding is available to them, are they being denied the grant, is the application process too arduous? So we did some research. We sat down with two Sigma-One Trust Members who are recent recipients of the grant so we could give you the full inside scoop.
Special Hermetic Products, Inc., a manufacturer of hermetic seals, received a grant to have 9 staff members participate in solder training held at their facility in Wilton, NH. The manufacturer has various competitors world-wide, but most importantly they ship their products overseas, requiring them to maintain specific ISO certifications. “Our customers require us to hold a certification in soldering,” said Joan Poulicakos, director of human resources. “The solder training has allowed us to maintain our certification, which is important to our overall success as a manufacturer.”
The participants ranged from new and current solder department employees, inspectors and engineers. “It was helpful to have other staff members outside of the solder department participate in the training,” said Melissa Crooker, solder/epoxy department supervisor. “The inspectors and engineers don’t normally get to see the process from start to finish, which allows them to see the ins and outs.”
When asked about how they discovered the NH Job Training Fund, Joan said, “From the Manchester Area Human Resources Association. They reached out to us, because we’re members, informing us of the grants.” Joan emphasized that she feels the information for the program is not readily available and should be promoted by the state NH’s business community. “We [Special Hermetic Products, Inc.] knew we needed to provide our staff with the solder training. It was just a matter of budgeting for it,” Joan said. “So as soon as we found the NH Job Training matching grant program, we applied.”
Joan described the application process as well-managed, but rather intense. From the sixteen packet submission just to qualify to the ten-member Job Training Grant Review Committee and their questions Joan said, “We really appreciated Kathy DeRoches (director of workforce development, Manchester Community College) help through this process. She was right there guiding and coaching us making sure we collected and provided the appropriate documentation.”
D.S. Cole Growers, a wholesale grower of annual plants, located in Loudon, NH had a very similar experience.
Nurseries are a fascinating industry – differentiated by an innate sense of traditionalism, proprietary knowledge and profound beauty. However, the nursery and landscaping trades continue to face challenges due to relatively low consumer spending, housing sector issues, elevated transportation costs, marketplace uncertainty and labor availability. For the 150,000 square foot commercial greenhouse, D.S. Cole Growers, these challenges have not been easy to overcome.
“We have quite a bit of competition to worry about,” said Doug Cole, owner of D.S. Cole Growers. “We compete against the large, 100 acre greenhouses who sell to the Wal-Marts of the world, and on top of that we’re fighting against the shrinking pie of smaller, similar to our size greenhouses who are all competing for the small to medium, Mom & Pop customers. We’re also shipping a little closer to home because transportation costs are so high, which can be rather limiting.”
Jennifer Bofinger carries out duties as part of a new role created as a result of D.S. Cole’s Job Training.
As a wholesale grower, D.S. Cole Growers, combines elements of the manufacturing and distribution industries. They were aware that there may have been some inefficiencies in their business process, and identifying and eliminating them would contribute to their success through these challenging times. The company determined training on value stream mapping, a lean manufacturing technique, would best suit their needs. However, like most businesses who have survived the last few years, cash for training like this is not always readily available. Leaving the company to ask, “is this training a necessity or a luxury?”
D.S. Cole Growers decided to seek help from the State of New Hampshire. They discovered the New Hampshire Job Training Fund through a local reference who had gone through the process. “I’m so happy we decided to seek grant money,” said Doug. “The training has done great things for not only the individual employees who participated in the training, but our business as a whole is really reaping the benefits. Our employees have truly come together as an empowered and enthusiastic team with one goal in mind: to complete the job on time, the first time, with minimum waste. We’ve seen growth across the board! This was a no brainer for us.”
Overall, Comp-SIGMA Ltd supports this program and strongly recommends that our Members take advantage of it when needed. We recognize that our Members continue to express a need for a highly-skilled workforce. The NH Job Training Fund has assisted businesses across the state by providing a timely and practical tool to meet training needs. The grants match up to 100% of what a company spends on training. We believe upgrading the skills of your workforce will allow your business to expand and grow, as well as improve New Hampshire’s overall economy.
For more information visit the NH Job Training Fund website, located at www.nhjobtrainingfund.org.