Grant to help college train 200 workers

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North Idaho College has been awarded a $482,582 grant by the Idaho Department of Labor to train more than 200 workers in the wood products manufacturing industry.

The two-year grant is a partnership with Lewis-Clark State College and five wood products manufacturing companies in North Idaho. The positions will pay wages ranging from $15 to $25 per hour, plus employer-assisted medical benefits.

“This grant will go a long way in training the next generation of wood products manufacturing workers,” said NIC President Rick MacLennan. “These are solid, high-paying jobs and an outstanding opportunity for more than 200 people in North Idaho. We’re grateful for the Idaho Department of Labor’s foresight and the hard work put in by many people to make this grant a reality.”

The funds will be used to address skill gaps for high-wage, high-demand occupations in the forest products industry and increase the employment and wages of Idaho workers in mostly rural areas. The project also supports the Apprenticeship Idaho program, which expands innovative apprenticeships into high-growth occupations and industries. Idaho Forest Group, Potlatch and Lumber LLC, Stimson Lumber Co., Empire Lumber Co. and Plummer Forest Products (a total of 11 mills) are the five business partners in the grant. A match is required from industry partners, who gave a total of $141,834.61 in cash and in-kind donations.

The North Idaho College Wood Products Center of Excellence will provide training along with structured on-site training at the mills.

Workforce training and registered apprenticeship opportunities that are being developed and/or expanded include: boiler operator registered apprenticeship; industrial mechanic/millwright registered apprenticeship; kiln operator training; power fluid/hydraulics training; and programmable logic controls training.

“Wood products manufacturing has always been one of North Idaho’s most important industries. This grant recognizes that while also looking to the future and training for a higher level of skills these jobs now demand,” said Marie Price, NIC director for Workforce and Community Education.

The Idaho Workforce Development Training Fund was started in 1996 and is administered by the Idaho Department of Labor. Grant funds are used to reimburse businesses for the cost of training new workers or retraining existing workers with skills necessary for specific economic opportunities and industrial expansion initiatives.

Eligible businesses must produce a product or service sold outside the region, and the jobs must pay at least $12 an hour plus employer-assisted health insurance. The fund is financed by a 3 percent set-aside of the unemployment insurance taxes paid by businesses each year.

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