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Md. to revive workforce training program

The state Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation is bringing back a worker training program to help the state’s small-business retail workers.

The Maryland Business Works Program will start with an initial investment of $500,000 for worker training programs, the labor department said in a statement last week.

The program, which began in 2003, has been dormant since 2011. It’s being reintroduced this year as part of the Hogan administration’s effort to invest in local businesses, said labor department spokeswoman Summar Goodman.

Participating business must be located in Maryland. Most funds will go to businesses with 100 employees or less, to area businesses providing “in-demand” products and services and to businesses facing layoffs. The money will cover classroom-based training, in-house staff training, apprenticeships among other programs.

Up to $4,500 can also be awarded to a single trainee or project from July 1 to June 30 each fiscal year, but the department will consider proposals over that amount in “extenuating circumstances.” There’s a $40,000 funding cap for specific employer awards for projects.

To participate, employers are required to match dollar-for-dollar, which translates to $1 million being invested in training programs. That money can be used to help employees get new skills and to offer training for new hires. Workers will be able to earn certifications and credentials that are industry recognized, the labor department said.

The money has to be spent on employees working at the company’s Maryland facilities, serving full-time positions with benefits. The labor and commerce departments will go over applicants’ business plans and training needs with input from businesses, state and local economic development officials.

“With the addition of 63,200 jobs, Maryland has gone from last to first in the mid-Atlantic region and added more jobs than any other state in the country,” said Gov. Larry Hogan in a press release. “Under our administration, Maryland is now a more business-friendly state and programs such as Maryland Business Works, that emphasize skills training, will only help to continue to grow our private sector and Maryland’s economy.”