Employee Training More Affordable with Grant funded Program

Employee Training More Affordable with Grant funded Program Main Photo

12 Aug 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has brought an unprecedented amount of change to businesses across the country. As employers and workers seek to understand the skills those changes may require, one common obstacle is the ability for businesses to afford necessary training. In Minnesota, the Incumbent Worker Training Program provides businesses a grant to offset a portion of the costs to train and upgrade the skills of its workers. Staff at Rural Minnesota CEP (RMCEP) are available to help local businesses navigate the application process and help businesses improve their workers skills while developing opportunities for growth.

Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development Incumbent Worker Training Program is designed to provide direct financial assistance to train current employees and improve the economic competitiveness of regional businesses.  It can be used to help avert potential layoffs of employees or obtain the skills necessary to retain employment, such as increasing the skill levels of employees so they can be promoted within the company and create backfill opportunities for less-skilled employees.


Eligible incumbent workers are anyone currently employed at a business and could benefit themselves and their employer by upgrading their skills through educational and training opportunities. The program is not intended to provide training for seasonal, temporary or intermittent employment. 

Requirements to be an eligible business are:

  • Be located in Minnesota
  • Be registered with the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office as a business, which includes non-profits, government entities, school districts and sole proprietors. 
  • Have been in continuous operation for the 18 months immediately prior to submitting an application
  • Not be in the process of a layoff
  • Match the grant at the required level per the application
  • Demonstrate that training cannot be met alone

RMCEP is the resource necessary to help bring those benefits to employers and workers alike. While RMCEP is widely known as a resource to help individuals find employment or develop their career goals, it also can provide services to businesses.

“Specifically with this Incumbent Worker Training Program, we can help offset the costs of a training program necessary for businesses looking to get into something new,” said Tina Jaster, RMCEP’s Director of Operations. “Depending on the size of the business, we may be able to help cover up to 90% of the direct training costs.”

Training Specifics

Training plans developed by businesses should be designed to expand and improve an employee’s workforce skills and develop his or her opportunities for growth or promotion within the company. Acceptable forms of training include industry- or business-specific skill development, new technical skills development, new equipment training, upgrading computer skills, leadership and management training or Human Resources training. Examples of training not available for reimbursement include self-paced learning, personal development courses, non-skill related assessments, mandated safety training, English as a second language course, remedial education and any non-job-related training. 

“Businesses will need to have a specific educational goal and a specific training provider who can give a Certificate of Completion for those completing the training,” said Jaster.

While there is no established list of accepted training providers, businesses may use Minnesota public or private institutions, private training organizations, trainers employed by the business, on- or off-site trainers or a combination of providers. 

Examples of costs available for reimbursement include instructor wages, curriculum development and training materials. Examples of costs not available for reimbursement include administrative costs, wages of the employees, capital equipment or improvement purchases, items or services used primarily outside of the training, travel expenses, advertising and fees related to assessment, testing or certification. 

Contact RMCEP

Those eager to proceed through the application process should contact Jaster, who said businesses should not be dissuaded from applying if they have had past experience with the Incumbent Worker Training Program.

“In 2017, the program had many restrictions on funding and eligibility,” she said. “But with the COVID-19 crisis, federal and state officials have loosened eligibility requirements and provided additional funding, so we are confident we will be able to help many businesses in our area.”

Please contact Tina Jaster for assistance applying for the Incumbent Worker Training Program at:

Tina Jaster

803 Roosevelt Ave, Suite 301

Detroit Lakes, MN 56501