Several local and state governments recently have agreed to kick in government funds to support the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.'s satellite-based worker training program.
The latest is in California, where the San Bernardino County board voted Feb. 12 to spend $102,000 in federal Workforce Investment Act funds to install downlink equipment at two local companies and provide training for 125 workers this year.
That comes after officials in New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and South Carolina recently decided to establish new downlink sites for SPI's Plastics Learning Network or to kick in more money to cover training costs.
SPI and local partners are establishing five locations in New York where participants can watch satellite-based courses, and state officials agreed to pay half the cost of training, including employees' wages while in training and travel time, said Gary Moore, director of work-force development for Washington-based SPI.
In New York, a site in Buffalo is working, and plans are under way in Rochester, Plattsburgh, Queensbury, and in Columbia and Greene counties, Moore said.
North Carolina is fully funding training for 40 students at two colleges, Flat Rock Blue Ridge Community College in Flat Rock, and Spindale Isothermal Community College in Spindale. The colleges charge a nominal fee, as required by state law.
Pennsylvania is bringing the PLN to Bucks County Community College, and is using state funding to pay for 70 percent of the training costs. The funds are available for companies statewide.
And South Carolina is using enterprise zone funding to pay for half the training cost for companies using the PLN.
In California, the links will be at a San Bernardino County worker training office and at three companies: Mission Plastics Inc. and Porex Technologies Corp. medical products group, both in Ontario, and High Sierra Plastics in Bishop. San Bernardino is paying for the equipment installation at Mission and Porex. The workers who are being trained at the three San Bernardino sites come from eight plastics processors.
A related training effort is under way at High Sierra in Bishop, a town between two mountain ranges and far from urban centers.
High Sierra is in the process of contracting with the state Employment Development Department unit for reimbursement of up to $97,000 for straight training contract hours of 50 of its 53 employees during 2002-03.
It took eight months of applying and passing reviews to work through the process, said John Clair, High Sierra general manager. ``We will submit a bill for trainees' contact hours,'' he said. Reimbursement rates will depend on course content and level.
Every eligible worker will get 88 hours of training either from PLN or in-house programs, Clair said.
State budget cuts also are starting to take their toll on work-force efforts, Moore said. Kentucky, which spent $42,000 to pay for training 120 workers last year, has frozen state funding this year, he said.
New York also has enacted a temporary funding freeze. That freeze will not impact the programs SPI is developing now in the state, but it could hurt future efforts, Moore said.