Jobs, Trades, and Skills Training

Citizens Count Editor

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 Citizens Count 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 Citizens Count 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

Signed by Governor

Permits the Advanced Manufacturing Education Advisory Council to accept and coordinate funds to support certain workforce training efforts.

Signed by Governor

Increases the number of apprentice electricians that can work for a journeyman or master electrician.

Killed in the House

Allows the Job Training Program to provide funding for apprenticeships in trade union programs.

Interim Study

Expands the job training programs offered by the Department of Business and Economic Affairs. This bill accomplishes that in part by increasing the unemployment compensation administrative contribution paid by employers from 0.2% to 0.4%. According to the Department of Employment Security, this bill would not initially increase the unemployment insurance tax paid by employers because the administrative contribution is deducted from the employer’s tax rate and added back as an administrative contribution. However, the bill would also increase the amount of administrative contributions deposited in the Training Fund, from $2 million to $6 million. This bill would therefore decrease annual revenue to the unemployment trust fund by $4 million, which could result in a higher unemployment insurance tax rate to cover lost revenue.

Signed by Governor

Adds a representative from the community college system to the Apprenticeship Advisory Council.

Killed in the Senate

Permits local school boards to offer a certificate of eligibility to a person interested in becoming a career and technical educator who is not a certified or licensed teacher.

Signed by Governor

Establishes a commission to review and evaluate workforce and job training programs in New Hampshire.

Interim Study

Establishes a tax credit for donations to career and technical education centers that can be applied against the business profits tax, with an aggregate allowable amount not to exceed $500,000 per fiscal year.

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.

Killed in the House

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.

Tabled in the Senate

Establishes a skilled technology worker recruiting trust fund in the Treasury Department for the purpose of providing student debt relief. This bill appropriates $4 million over the next two fiscal years for the program.

Signed by Governor

Allows a student to enroll in a career and technical education (CTE) program after just one year of high school, rather than two.

Killed in the House

Establishes a college scholarship program for UNH students pursuing careers in social services, such as nursing. Applicants would have to agree to work in New Hampshire for at least four years after graduating. The bill appropriates $1 to start the program.

Killed in the House

Establishes a college scholarship program for UNH students pursuing careers in health care. Applicants would have to agree to work in New Hampshire for at least five years after graduating. The bill appropriates $1 to start the program.

Tabled in the House

Establishes a fund for the University System of New Hampshire to give scholarships to students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) who agree to work in New Hampshire for at least five years after graduating

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

Comments

Jackie Benson
- Kensington

Fri, 06/22/2018 - 11:19am

New Hampshire businesses are complaining of the challenges they face finding skilled workers. Why not push for policies that would allow more skilled immigrants into our state? Of course, this means wrangling with the federal government, which sets immigration policy. But if our own low unemployment rate makes finding workers a challenge, why not open our doors to folks from outside the U.S. who are eager to live and work here?

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Issue Status

SB 567 would expand state funding for job training programs from $2 million to $6 million, though there is some debate as to whether the move could result in a bump in state unemployment taxes. ​The Senate sent this bill to interim study.

Read more about this proposal

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