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Do you remember Idaho's unemployment rate just as the recession was being noticed? It was 3%. The National Bureau of Economic Research said the great recession started in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. Since those declarations, Idaho's unemployment rate climbed to its peak of 8.8% in August 2010. By August 2011 it had dropped to 8.4%, and by August 2012 it was down to 7%.

Idaho's Workforce Development Council Moving Forward With Job-Training Grants Program

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Emilie Ritter Saunders
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StateImpact Idaho

Since January, Idaho’s Workforce Development Council has been working on creating a short-term workforce training program for individuals. Typically, the agency distributes most of its funding, about $5 million last fiscal year, to employers for training. The proposed program would provide up to $2,000 for training in skilled, in-demand jobs like nursing assistants.

“We’re looking at those shorter term things that are designed to help somebody access employment in a fairly quick time frame,” said Workforce Development Council Executive Director Wendi Secrist.

 

The proposal, which was approved by the WDC Policy Committee Tuesday, gives the council the power to determine annually which job training programs qualify for the tuition grant. There would be income limits to qualify and recipients would be required to work in state for a year or the grant would become a loan.

 

Applicants would apply for the grant funding, and if approved, would receive vouchers to deliver to their training program. Individuals would not receive cash during the process.

 

Many training programs for the in-demand jobs targeted cost well over $2,000. Secrist said that number allows the program to serve a greater number of people. 

 

"For some individuals, $50-$100 is the difference between them accessing a training program and not being able to access it," she said. "It's really a starting point."

 

Even though the proposal has been in the works since January, the program would take on a greater importance if approved and implemented as tens of thousands of people remain out of work in Idaho.

 

"There’s going to be changes in the nature of jobs post-COVID," Secrist said. "We want to make sure that folks are empowered to have the right skills to be able to access what employers are needing.”

 

The proposed workforce training program goes before the full workforce development council at its July 15 meeting. If approved, Secrist says the program can be implemented quickly, and the council has also requested pandemic relief funding to help speed that up even more.

 

Follow Troy Oppie on Twitter @GoodBadOppie for more local news.

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