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The Skills Development Fund: The Texas Business Owner’s COVID-19 Guide

The global impact of COVID-19 has been overwhelming. It’s changed not only the way we approach health and safety on a personal and public level, but also the way we define business as usual.

Across the globe, as companies continue to promote social distancing best practices within the workplace, others have started to turn to technology to support more remote work. Overall, the mandate is clear: evolve work practices, innovate, survive.

On the local front, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas released their June report detailing how overall business activity in the manufacturing sector experienced a sharp decline as of April 2020. While data shows that this decline has slowed, local employers still continue to face disruptions in operations, if not closures.

That said, as the country continues to combat the pandemic, there’s a critical need for priority skills training in essential industries, which include Healthcare, Manufacturing, and Information Technology. If your business services these essential sectors, we believe in knowing what options are available for you.

What is the Skills Development Fund and how does it work?

The Skills Development Fund (SDF) is Texas’ premier job-training program. Managed by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), this initiative provides grants to community and technical colleges for customized job training programs, which in turn, support Texas businesses looking to train new workers or to upgrade the skills of their existing workforce.

The Skills Development Fund: The Texas Business Owner’s COVID-19 Guide

Say that you’re a business with an identified training need. Your company can choose to partner with a community or technical college to fulfill that need by submitting proposals to develop curriculum and conduct training.

Once your application is approved, the Skills Development Fund pays for the training, while your partner college administers the grant. As a result, your business can create new jobs and allow current workers to improve their skills.

In need of skills training funds during COVID-19? Here’s an option to consider.

Earlier, we mentioned the critical need for priority skills training in essential industries given the impact of COVID-19. As a local employer, you are the focus of the Skills Development Fund. This is because you provide two things:

  • A desire to collaborate with the other partners involved with the project, and;
  • The commitment to see the project through to completion.

If your business has been adversely affected by COVID-19, or if you are retooling business processes to respond to the need for COVID-19 related necessities, we’ve got good news for you.

The SDF rolled out priority funding under their Special Training Initiative. This is available if you are a local employer with:

  • Employees paid at minimum, the local prevailing wage
  • Full-time, permanent employees, and new hires
  • Employees that have been furloughed, provided that you— as their employer—plan to hire them back once their training is complete
The Skills Development Fund: The Texas Business Owner’s COVID-19 Guide

As a private business, business consortium, or trade union, there are, of course, a few things to keep in mind when you’re looking to be considered for a Skills Development Fund grant. You must:

  • Partner with an eligible grant applicant. This can be a public community or technical college, the Texas Engineering Extension Service; or a private, nonprofit community-based organization in partnership with one of those institutions—such as Divergence Academy.
  • Be actively involved in the planning and design of the customized training project.
  • Pay wages to the employees who successfully complete the training program. These should be equal to or greater than the prevailing wage for the occupation in the local labor market.
  • Disclose any other state or federal grant funds sought or awarded for the proposed training project.
  • Sign an agreement with the grant applicant outlining the roles and responsibilities of each entity in the training project. This includes reporting requirements related to trainee participation.
  • Provide equal employment opportunity documentation as well as information on the occupations for training, employment benefits, wages, and social security numbers for trainees.
  • Use to post openings for new workers trained under the project.

For more information on eligibility for the Special Initiative Funding, we’ve compiled this list of resources for you.

Don’t just think about the world as is – think about how it can be.

While 2020 has proven challenging for the business landscape, the good news is that employers such as yourself can take actionable steps to get things back on track. Empower your employees to pursue the work they love and leverage the most relevant skills of tomorrow.

At Divergence Academy, we provide effective and efficient talent solutions to bridge the gap between your team’s current capabilities and the skills needed to stay competitive in today’s market. Learn more about how we help you upskill your workforce and come talk to us about your talent development needs.