Community colleges help support businesses with work training grants

ACC is part of longstanding program offering $1,400 per employee to hone skills

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For over three decades, Colorado’s community colleges have worked with the state government to offer a grant-based jobs training program for businesses. At Arapahoe Community College (ACC), based in Littleton with campuses in Parker and Castle Rock, businesses can apply to be reimbursed $1,400 per employee for training programs that are tailored to their needs.

Funded through the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, the program, Skill Advance Colorado, is administered by 18 community college campuses across Colorado that, combined, can support $4.5 million in grants per year. 

The goal, according to ACC Workforce Business and Development Coordinator Emily Martini, is to “ensure that Colorado has a robust workforce so that business that is here, or considering locating here, has opportunity.” 

“If we have a business here whose growth is stifled because they do not have training for those employees they need, they’re going to be going somewhere else,” Martini said. 

Amid a volatile job market, where businesses are seeing fewer and fewer applications and more resignations, Martini said the college’s program is an essential way to keep businesses stable. While the program offers money for training for existing employees who’ve worked for more than a year, it also allows businesses to train for new employees, something that Martini said can be crucial for retention. 

“I have heard from many employers that I’ve talked with that hiring for that right fit is imperative right now,” Martini said. 

Oftentimes, the training helps bridge the gap between what a person learns in the classroom and the skills they need for a given job. And training differs depending on the employers’ needs. 

One grantee of Martini’s that she is currently working with is an auto repair shop that is looking to train its five employees in upholstery, an often under-taught and incredibly specialized skill. Another in the past has been a credit union looking to improve its critical thinking practices among staff. 

Sometimes the college will provide money for the company to train from within, while other times it may outsource to a third party for training. In other cases, it may even tap some trainees from its own college-run programs, according to Martini. 

Last year the college awarded grants to 10 employers. This year, it has so far awarded nine, according to Martini. While the college can award grants to any business in Colorado, as well as businesses looking to locate in Colorado, Martini urged local Littleton-based employers to take advantage of the program. 

“I would love to see more small businesses applying to the program,” she said. “We really are here to serve that community.” 

If you’re an employer who is interested in applying, you can do so by clicking here or by calling 303-797-5722. 

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