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Moses Lake Industries Uses JSP Training Grants to help Employees Gain Skills

Posted on Apr 06, 2016

Moses Lake Industries"It's amazing," says Anna Hirz, Training and Development Coordinator at Moses Lake Industries. "Our employees are getting training" in order to increase their skills. The training is made possible for Moses Lake Industries because of a Job Skills Program (JSP) grant through the State of Washington.

Beth Laszlo, Coordinator for the Center for Business and Industry Services at Big Bend Community College, say the JSP workforce training grants are a "proactive measure by the state." Laszlo explains that "workforce training increases the skills of current workers and it impacts our local economy by increasing the wages of those employees with new, promotable skills." And she adds "that increases retention, leading to success in the workplace and financial success within the industry." The grants "upskill" current workers who can be promoted within the company and who then need to be replaced with entry-level employees, thus reducing unemployment in the community, Laszlo says.

The Center for Business and Industry Services (CBIS) at Big Bend is a department that the college put together to reach out to local industries, Laszlo explains. "Partnering with employers to provide the resources to face the continued challenges and workforce needs" of local business and industry, a brochure states.

The Job Skills Program is expanding, Laszlo points out. In the 2014-2015 grant period for the local service area, 265 employees were trained using JSP grants totaling $200,000. But for the 2015-2016 period, it is projected that 1,500 employees will be trained with more than $575,000 in grant awards.

State-wide, the JSP grants have covered hundreds of training topics since 2009. The legislature authorizes $5.2 million in funding on a two-year basis, according to Laszlo. Companies wishing to take advantage of the grants have to apply in partnership with BBCC with and have to show the training will have an economic impact for the employer, the region, and for the state as a whole. With the JSP grant, the employer is required to match the grant by paying wages and benefits for the workers who attend the training. Grants range from $50,000 to $150,000, depending on the training needs of the employer.

Laszlo says the way to get started is to "call me" at the Center for Business and Industry Services. "We want to be a resource," she adds. Applications for next year's funding have to be complete by mid-May to make the first round of reviews on June 1st, Laszlo explains.

One of the benefits of partnering with BBCC, Laszlo explains, is that they "work with the employer from training strategy development to finding instructors to final execution." She shows off a big white binder that's her "network of experts" from all over the state.

The Center for Business and Industry Services works with the Grant County Economic Development Council to find grants for new businesses coming to the county. New employee training, especially for newly located employers or to support expanding industry lines is also a part of the Job Skills Program, Laszlo explains. SGL and TAKATA have both used a JSP grant to train their new employees, she adds.
"It's a trickle-down effect," Laszlo says. The program creates better-skilled employees which helps their employer be more successful which helps reduce unemployment.
For 2015-2016, Moses Lake Industries plans to train nearly 150 employees in 37 different skills or programs, ranging from basic chemistry to leadership programs. Some of the training topics are Electrical Energy Basics, Human Resources Ethics, Leadership Skills, and Success for Team Leads. Hirz says instructors come from Big Bend or Gonzaga, and some are in-house. "We try to use local instructors as much as possible," she says.

Moses Lake Industries Employee"We're able to do training we might not be able to do," Hirz says of the program because the state pays all of the training costs. Laszlo adds that companies match those dollars with employee wages and benefits to attend the training. Hirz says Moses Lake Industries will hire people who have few skills and may be on their first job. So this training is essential. Otherwise, Hirz says, training would be minimized and their employees probably wouldn't get the chance for advances or improvements in their company. Hirz explains that using the JSP grants makes Moses Lake Industries more prosperous and therefore able to give back to the community more. Laszlo points out that Moses Lake Industries' normal employee turnover rate is 11%, but for the employees that have been through the JSP training, it's 2%, which is a huge cost savings.

"It's an excellent program," Hirz says, adding that Big Bend Community College is great to work with. "We've been very happy."