I just got off the phone with Kris Deckard, the Director of Ready Indiana. Ready Indiana is my state’s effort to help Indiana businesses “Engage, Elevate and Educate our Workforce.”  In the last few months we’ve seen a modest uptick in customers calling us from across the country with the news that they’ve received a training grant from some regional or state agency for training and workforce development. I wanted more of that, so I had tracked Kris down using Google.

These training grants seem like such a win-win.

I don’t think we have any customers who are over-trained; people will always be able to get more value out of a tool that they really know and understand.  Knowing more about the tool can translate directly into higher individual worker productivity and effectiveness. If you’ve been following my last few posts you know that that can turn into huge increases in throughput and quality, and huge decreases in downtime, rework, repair, and other wastes.

But in a recessionary economy, a lot of manufacturers are squeezing every gram of copper out of every penny they have. Training budgets are one of the first things to get slashed. So investing in training is one use of stimulus money that makes an awful lot of sense. Of course I’m biased, because the money eventually trickles down to me and enables me to create and retain jobs. Like I said, I wanted more of this.

Kris confirmed that American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) does have substantial funds available for workforce development. Actually the buzz word these days is “Incumbent Worker Training”.

In Indiana there is a special grant called the Skill Enhancement Fund (SEF – these people seem to be huge believers in the wonder of acronyms). SEF will pay out up to $200,000 every two years to employers so they can train or retrain their workers.  The grants are especially supportive of manufacturers. Eligible training activities specifically mention “Quality-Assurance Skills: Skills that are intended to increase the quality of the company’s product (Statistical Process Control [SPC], Total Quality Management [TQM], ISO and QS).”

So if you’re one of our Indiana customers, contact me and I’ll introduce you to Kris. She’ll guide you through the application process maze.

Which brings me to the bad news, if there is bad news. There is no centralized clearing house for this information. It seems very regionally based. Actually Indiana seems progressive compared to some other states where grants are administered through regions that may be as small as a couple of counties. So navigating the maze may be difficult.

Have you checked what’s available in your area? What is your company doing to develop you and your staff? Use the ShareThis button below to mark this page, leave a comment, tweet me, schedule a conversation, or call 800-958-2709.