Advancing work in Upton

Advancing work in Upton Main Photo

22 Jun 2022

News, Blog

The Upton area is growing and so are workforce needs often found in such communities. Workforce advancement resources are now available to Upton employers and job seekers, including funding for internships, apprenticeships, career training and professional development. Job seekers have more opportunities to advance their careers, while employers have access to tools to develop a skilled workforce.

“We want people to understand funding is available to help their businesses, and now is the time to access it,” said Shaye Moon, Business Training and Support Program Manager with the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services (DWS).

This past February, the UEDB Board and Upton Chamber hosted a Business Training and Support video conference by the DWS staff, Sharon Geisler, Shaye Moon and Ivie Moore. They presented information about funding opportunities available for businesses in Wyoming. 

Two primary sources of funding include the Workforce Development Training Fund (WDTF) and the Apprenticeship State Expansion (ASE) Grant. Sharon Geissler, the Workforce Development Training Fund Lead, and Ivie Moore, Apprenticeship State Expansion Lead, offered their expert knowledge for looking at the needs of a business and determining what makes the most sense for each business. 

Workforce Development Training Fund

WDTF is a grant program connecting employers with professional development opportunities to increase employee skill attainment, ultimately strengthening businesses operating in Wyoming. The fund is essential for economic development entities to entice new businesses to relocate, build and grow in Wyoming. In FY2021, WDTF staff approved 314 grant applications totaling $531,411.84, which supported training for 699 employees at 121 Wyoming employers in 18 industry sectors covering 19 counties. The grants cover tuition, class materials, fees and travel expenses for training designed to correct deficiencies or upgrade existing skill levels directly related to an employee’s current occupation.

The grants cover several categories, including:

  • Pre-Hire Grants are designed to support pre-employment, industry-specific skill training to develop a workforce with a shortage of skilled workers. In FY 2021, WDTF approved two applications totaling $390,887, resulting in 208 individuals receiving healthcare-related training.
  • Internship Grants reimburse Wyoming businesses for providing internship opportunities. In FY 2021, WDTF approved 60 Internship Grants for $823,108.60, involving 101 interns in 24 different industries.
  • Apprenticeship Grants are intended to help businesses with the costs of training apprentices in their trade or profession. In FY 2021, WDTF approved six Apprenticeship Grant applications totaling $154,838, allowing 83 apprentices to receive instruction in the Technology, Water/Utilities, Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC industries.

In May, Governor Mark Gordon approved and enacted new emergency rules for the WDTF, including a significant increase in grant amounts. Further information can be found here.

Apprenticeship State Expansion Program

The ASE program helps businesses recruit and develop highly skilled workers. Funding for the program came from a $641,000 federal grant for 2019-2022 and is intended to help businesses increase productivity and reduce employee turnover. “Apprenticeships are an excellent opportunity that benefits both employers and job seekers alike,” said Moore. 

Apprenticeship State Expansion Program“Apprenticeships benefit the employer by vetting employees with structured learning through a Department of Labor recognized training site,” she said. “And they raise the skill level of  individuals, who come to an apprenticeship with little or no experience and raise them to the level of a qualified, long-term employee.” 

“Interest in the program increased with the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Moore. 

“Many more entrepreneurs and small businesses are tapping into these resources and training,” said Moore. “It is an excellent resource to help them bring their dreams to reality or turn that one-person show into a five-to-ten person operation.”

Apprenticeships are not only for adults who have been in the workforce for years. Today, opportunities exist for individuals to be part of an apprenticeship while in high school. Wyoming’s workers’ Compensation Student Learner Agreements allow students to gain real-world experience, school credit and compensation while being covered under an employer’s Workers’ Compensation policy. 

“Individuals can enter the apprenticeship programs and get a glimpse of what is possible in their future and educate themselves on the possibilities for excellent careers as alternatives to four-year colleges,” said Moon.

“Employers need employees in healthcare and welding,” said Moore. “An apprenticeship is an excellent way to plant the seed of thought with a high school student about these prospective careers and feed the pipeline of qualified workers businesses need.”

Upton opportunities

Moore said the February video conference had great interest and turnout from Upton businesses and DWS is very eager to work with the area. Specifically, Upton businesses in construction, healthcare, IT and manufacturing would benefit from working with the DWS programs. There are many regional entities already working with the DWS programs. Regional sponsors include the Newcastle Workforce Center and Powder River Energy Corporation in Sundance. Regional partners include Gillette Community College, Schulte TA, Sulzer EMS, Powder River Heating and Air Conditioning- Gillette, Pivot Prosthetics and Orthotics, LLC, City of Gillette Electrical Services Division, Delta Wye, North East Wyoming Construction and Gillette Workforce Center. 

In addition, the U.S. Department of Labor has an excellent Apprenticeship Finder, which offers a list of apprenticeship programs near Upton, including pharmacy technician, manufacturing apprenticeships and trades positions. Or contact for more information.

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