Workforce Training Fund

  • Description
  • Funding History
  • Proposals

The Workforce Training Fund provides grants to employers, training providers, and labor organizations in Massachusetts to invest in employee training. It is a state program that is financed entirely by an assessment on Massachusetts employers. Since July 2013, all Workforce Training Fund programs have been administered by the Commonwealth Corporation.

The Workforce Training Fund’s mission is to invest in the Commonwealth’s workforce and maintain economic viability of businesses. The priorities of the fund include projects that will result in job retention, job growth, and increased wages. In addition, the fund focuses on projects that enhance productivity, competitiveness, and private investment in training.

The Workforce Training Fund was created in 1998 when the Legislature reduced unemployment insurance contribution rates for Massachusetts employers. The Workforce Training Fund is financed by an additional unemployment insurance assessment paid by Massachusetts employers. Specifically, employers contribute an assessment on of .056 percent on the first $15,000 of an employee’s salary, or $8.40 per worker earning $15,000 or more. The fund typically collects between $18 and $22 million per year.

The program is operated out of the Commonwealth Corporation, a quasi-public agency within the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. The Workforce Training Fund Advisory Panel, which consists of 9 members representing labor and business organizations, reviews and approves grant applications.

Since its establishment, The Workforce Training Fund has awarded over $200 million in grants for workforce training programs. Most training programs or activities must be completed within 2 years of receiving the grant.

Types of Workforce Training Fund grants:

General Program Training Grant: This grant program offers up to $250,000 to businesses of any size to train incumbent workers. Businesses must provide a 100 percent match, which may include in-kind expenses as well as paid release time for training participants. Awarded grants may be used to pay for employee training by qualified training vendors.

General Program Technical Assistance Grant: This grant program offers up to $25,000 to support planning and needs assessment necessary for a business or a consortium of businesses to develop an implementation application. Businesses must provide a 100 percent match which may include in-kind expenses as well as paid release time for training participants.

Express Grant: This grant program offers up to $30,000 to businesses with 100 or fewer employees for training courses chosen from a database of pre-qualified courses. Awarded grants will pay up to 50 percent of the cost.

Direct Access Program: This grant program targets smaller scale training needs in areas such as process improvement, manufacturing skills, supervisory/leadership, and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes. Applicants must show that there is significant demand for proposed trainings. There are no specified grant limits.

Updated October 2016