On-the-Job Training Program a tool to connect employers, workers

Guest column

By SUSAN SMALL

Employment.

It’s the age-old adage: Unemployed are looking for a job, underemployed are searching for a better job, and companies are on a quest for qualified employees.

As the Washington County (Md.) Business Development staff is out in the community, workforce efforts are often a hot topic. Whether we find ourselves in the position as the employee or employer, we may often become stuck at a crossroads asking questions such as, “Which candidate is the best hire?” “Where can I find a job?” “Where can I find training to work at a different job?”

For 362 individuals and 18 businesses in Washington County, the Western Maryland Consortium On-the-Job Training Program has offered an answer to these lingering questions. This grant-funded federal program offers under-employed training and unemployed assistance by involving individuals in a training program within a local business.

Ring Container Technologies Inc. recently opened a new facility in Hagerstown, Md., and is participating in the On-the-Job Training Program. Holly Combs serves as the local plant manager at Ring Container and had this to say about the training program: “We have been excited to work with Angie Detrick and the Western Maryland Consortium during the startup of our new facility. Angie and her team have been a great resource for us providing information and support as we hired our personnel.  We are participating in the On-the-Job Training Program, which is a program that reimburses us 50 percent of our eligible new hire’s wage for approximately the first four months of their employment as they receive on the job training. We truly appreciate the support and resources which have been helpful during our startup. We would definitely recommend this program to other business in the area.”

Participants in this training program generally spend three to four months with a company, with the end goal being full-time employment if funding is available. It also provides an excellent opportunity to build trust between trainees and their potential future employer. Most participants in Washington County get connected with the On-the-Job Training Program through DOORS, American Job Center, Potomac Case Management or Associated Builders and Contractors. During this past fiscal year, 165 of the 362 participants attained full-time employment at the end of the program.

A large benefit for businesses participating in this program is the monetary reimbursement of 50 percent of the trainee’s wages during their several months of training. As an added bonus, if the trainee ends up being a great fit for the company, there is a hire-ready employee to add to the company payroll.

It is no small feat knowing that to grow an economy, there must be stable employment offerings. The On-the-Job Training Program bridges the gap of those who need assistance finding employment with companies who are looking for trained employees to fill vacant positions. A successful trainee from this program is an addition to the local economy and a sustainable investment for the company.

The Washington County (Md.) Department of Public Relations and Marketing assisted in writing this column. Susan Small is business leader for the Washington County (Md.) Department of Business Development. Her email is ssmall@washco-md.net.