Jobs, Trades, and Skills Training

In Brief:

  • New Hampshire has a shortage of workers in several fields, particularly in health care and technology.
  • The state Office of Workforce Opportunity coordinates many workforce development and training programs, mostly funded by federal grants.
  • Public schools, particularly community colleges, are also working with employers to create career pathways that train students for specific jobs.
  • Some lawmakers want the state to expand job training programs funded through the state unemployment tax.
  • Pro: Training employees is a direct investment in New Hampshire’s economy, and ensures employers have the workers they need to stay in-state.
  • Con: The state already invests in job training, and more funding could trigger unemployment tax increases that burden employers and slow job growth.

Issue Facts:

With one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, many employers worry that a shortage of workers will stifle business growth in New Hampshire.  As baby boomers retire, there is a growing demand for health care workers, in particular.  Technology companies also need more skilled employees.

There are several approaches to attracting a skilled workforce to New Hampshire: offering tuition assistance, easing licensing rules, increasing affordable housing, and so on.  This article looks at programs designed to train more workers in specific fields.

Public programs in NH

The federal government provides funding for the state Office of Workforce Opportunity to oversee workforce development in New Hampshire.  The office brings together businesses, nonprofits, various state agencies, and state and local elected officials to coordinate services for job-seekers and employers.

If you are a worker or employer looking for jobs, trades, and skills training, visit the NH Works website, the “one-stop shop” of the Office of Workforce Opportunity.

The following are some of the biggest training programs in New Hampshire to increase readiness for certain fields.

On-the-Job Training

  • The Office of Workforce Opportunity On-the-Job Training program uses federal funds to reimburse employers for 50 to 75 percent of a new employee’s wages while that employee goes through training. 
  • The reimbursement period can last as long as six months.
  • The employer must hire the worker as a regular full-time employee after training is completed.

New Hampshire Job Training Fund

Although they have similar names, there are important differences between On-the-Job Training and the New Hampshire Job Training Fund

  • The Job Training Fund is available for new or current employees. 
  • Employers must match any Job Training Fund grant. 
  • The grant can only be spent on the cost of training, not employee wages. 
  • The Job Training Fund is supported by state unemployment taxes, not federal grants.

Return to Work

  • The Return to Work program allows individuals to continue to collect unemployment benefits while participating in a six-week, unpaid training program at a company. 
  • The company must have a full-time opening for which they are training the individual.
  • The company is not required to hire the trainee at the end of six weeks.

Partnerships between public educators and private employers

New Hampshire’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) centers, community colleges, and public universities all have some partnerships with private employers to train students for specific careers. 

For example, the community college system developed Advanced Manufacturing Partnerships in Education (AMPed).  AMPed programs were designed with the help of manufacturers so students graduate with the specialized skills for specific advanced manufacturing positions.  AMPed benefits from federal grant funding.

Private initiatives in NH

At the end of 2016 the Business and Industry Association (BIA) of New Hampshire and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation (NHCF) announced the Workforce Accelerator 2025 initiative.  Through Workforce Accelerator 2025, the BIA and NHCF will encourage the creation of career pathways from education programs to employers.  The program has a specific goal of 65 percent of New Hampshire adults having degrees and high-value credentials by 2025.

More funding for training programs?

While New Hampshire does not control how much federal grant funding it gets for workforce development (about $8.7 million in 2018), state funding for the Job Training Fund caps at $2 million a year.  State support for Career and Technical Education (CTE) centers, community colleges, and public universities may also indirectly fund career pathways.  Some legislators would like the state to spend more of its money on any of these existing programs, or develop new state-level programs without the restrictions of federal funding.

Related Issues

Aging Population
Business Taxes
Economic Planning in NH
 

PROS & CONS

"For" Position

By LFDA Editor

 “NH should invest more state funds in training programs for certain fields.”

  • Federal grant funding often comes with many restrictions on who may qualify for training.  Any state-funded and state-run program has more flexibility to match workers and employers with training programs.
  • For certain health care fields, the shortage of trained workers doesn’t just threaten the economy – it threatens the welfare and safety of New Hampshire’s aging residents who have increasing needs for care.
  • By investing in job training programs, the state is increasing the earning potential of individuals and helping businesses grow, which boosts the economy and future tax revenue overall.
  • Due to a very low unemployment rate in recent years, New Hampshire has been accumulating money from unemployment taxes.  The state should invest those dollars in the workforce rather than letting the money sit in a trust fund.

"Against" Position

By LFDA Editor

"NH should not invest more state funds in training programs for certain fields."

  • During a 2017 debate over expanding the Job Training Fund, Sen. John Reagan said more than once, “I have never met a person who got a job through a government job training program.”
  • The state already has many training programs in place to match prospective employees and employers.
  • If private employers need more workers, they already have the ability to work with public education institutions and workers to create training programs.   The Workforce Accelerator 2025 initiative is an example of business leaders stepping in to match employers and employees without the government.
  • Increasing state investment in job training could end up depleting the unemployment trust fund, leading to an increase in the unemployment tax. New Hampshire already has one of the highest unemployment tax burdens in the U.S. Saddling employers with higher unemployment taxes, even for job training, would ultimately slow job growth.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

Tabled in the Senate

Expands job training programs offered by the Department of Resources and Economic Development. The bill is paid for by increasing the amount of unemployment tax that funds job training programs.

Tabled in the Senate

Establishes the New Hampshire college graduate retention incentive partnership (NH GRIP) which provides $1,000 annually for four years to an in-state college graduate who is hired by a participating in-state employer.

Passed Senate

Makes several changes to the administration of food stamps. In particular, this bill forbids the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) from waiving federal work requirements for food stamps unless approved by the Health and Human Services Oversight Committee. The bill also requires DHHS to use federal limits for food stamp eligibility, rather than state standards, unless there are minor children in the household and the Health and Human Services Oversight Committee approves the alternative eligibility criteria. Lastly, the bill requires food stamp recipients to cooperate with the division of child support services. The Senate amended the bill to add the Granite Workforce pilot program, a work training program for welfare recipients.

Should NH invest more state funds in training programs to increase readiness for certain fields?

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Issue Status

An attempt to increase the portion of unemployment tax revenues that goes to job training was shot down in the Senate.

A new pilot program offering work training to welfare recipients passed the Senate but got held back in a House committee. 

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