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MAC Resource: Can You Afford to Train Your Staff?

By William Baldino, Director, Employer’s Resource Group, A.I.M.

A much better title for this article would be, "Can You Afford NOT to Train Your Staff?"

In my travels around the Commonwealth, visiting a wide variety of businesses, I hear an almost universal lament, "I cannot find or keep trained, motivated, reliable people." At the same time, I hear surprisingly consistent rationalizations for not investing in the training and development of the existing, or future, workforce, such as:

  • "Massachusetts is not business-friendly and has lost the ability to attract or maintain business."
  • "Why train? It’s only a matter of time before this business is in China."
  • "Why should I invest in training just to have them take those skills with them to their next employer?"

If this is the case, as it seems to be for many employers, there are only a few real options:

  • You can move out of Massachusetts—fraught with enough risk and expense to potentially kill the business entirely.
  • You can sell the business and leave the problems to others—but the problems don’t go away.
  • Or you can join the growing ranks of employers determined to be part of the solution by figuring out where they need their businesses to go, determining the skills and competencies it will take to get them there, then training and developing their current and future workforces in a systematic, targeted, results-oriented way.     

You Are Not Alone
Your concerns are shared by many: your customers, your suppliers, and your employees; cities and towns that do not wish to lose their tax base; local politicians who do not want to lose their constituents; and a state that wants to reverse recent trends in lost jobs and decreased population.

If you are serious about overcoming the obstacles you may find in your path, there may be some equally serious resources available to you through the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund (WTF). But the tradeoff is real—serious commitment for serious resources.

The Rules Are Changing
As a result of the growing number of employers applying for WTF grants, the application process is becoming more competitive and additional requirements have been added. Most notable of these is the need to calculate the return on investment (ROI) for all approved WTF funds. In addition, there is a requirement to describe the skills employees will gain as a result of the funded training. Some grant applicants may view this as burdensome, but it is also a valuable and very enlightening process for the employer.

How A.I.M. Helps
A.I.M. is committed to educating employers about the state’s grant programs. The WTF, after all, is funded by employers through a per-employee surcharge on the Unemployment Insurance tax. But we also help employers, in any industry, with the critical analysis and planning process; conduct training needs assessments, including gap analysis; and deliver high quality training and educational programs for employees at every level of an organization. All of this helps ensure the success of a major change initiative.

For manufacturing businesses, A.I.M.’s partnership with the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP) has proven to be particularly valuable and effective in providing the help described above.  A wide variety of manufacturers have benefited from the very broad, and very complementary, technical and practical expertise of the MassMEP and A.I.M. staffs. And they have realized significant operational improvements—funded primarily through WTF grants.

One satisfied A.I.M. member company, National Vinyl Products, gets to the point of A.I.M.’s and MassMEP’s collaboration:

"We have found that the partnership, in every sense of the word, with A.I.M. and MassMEP has given us the information, help, and direction to develop our employees to improve the outlook for our company and for them as individuals.

The specific knowledge, experience, and understanding of the needs of their clients is something that is simply not present in other agencies and firms that purport to help small manufacturing companies with the needs of growing their business. Both A.I.M. and MassMEP have actual manufacturing experienced people that guide you through the minefields of training grant applications and advise you of the areas where their experience has shown them you can get the most impact for your investment."

We welcome the opportunity to provide the level of information and assistance your organization needs. Phone 800-470-6277, e-mail: [email protected], or visit our Web site:

To learn about Workforce Training Fund programs, attend one of the educational sessions scheduled around the state in September.


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