Dwayne E. Ingram: A quick response for better jobs
Published: Sunday, December 2, 2012 at 6:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 9:54 a.m.
Thanks to Governor Rick Scott for his outstanding recommendation to double the state’s annual investment in Florida’s Quick Response Training (QRT) Grant program from $6 million to $12 million. As a small business owner, I am all about return on investment. This nationally recognized program, administered by Workforce Florida, Inc., has a demonstrated return for both the employers and their employees. QRT grants help fund customized training through partial reimbursement grants to new or expanding businesses. The business decides what training it needs, and who delivers the training to employees. Closely monitored and tracked results show clear benefits to Florida’s economy:
• With new and enhanced skills, trainees’ wages increase by more than 47 percent on average within a year.
• Workforce Florida awarded QRT grants to support skills upgrade training for nearly 5,000 full-time employees in the most recent fiscal year, nearly 4,000 of whom were new hires.
• QRT is a performance-based program that requires a company match, ensuring the companies are vested in the outcome.
Florida businesses invest $11.88 on average to upgrade employees’ skills for every $1 of QRT funding received. The payoff: businesses, and our state, get a stronger, more competitive workforce and each trained employee acquires additional skills that enhance his or her earning power and value to the employer.
A great example of the success of this program is Amcor Rigid Plastics. Amcor is just one of more than 400 Florida companies approved for QRT grants since 2000. The Central Florida packaging company, as part of a planned expansion, needed to train more than 80 existing and approximately 30 new employees to operate and maintain specialized equipment. Amcor received a QRT grant of $153,510, and for the first time, was able to have staff from the companies that manufacture its equipment come train Amcor’s employees on its use. The new plant has been so productive that plans to further expand into a new product line now are underway.
This strong track record makes QRT a significant recruiting tool to lure new business. In the 2012 Florida Target Industry Competitiveness Report, Florida economic developers cited QRT as the No. 1 program with the largest impact on their ability to win multi-state competitive projects. In 2011, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Chamber Foundation’s Enterprising States report, which ranked Florida No. 1 in the nation for workforce and job training programs, specifically recognized the success of Florida’s QRT grants.
As Florida's Jobs and Business Governor, Rick Scott is working hard to improve the lives of Floridians. He sees potential for even greater return for our state with an increased investment in the QRT program. Diverse business organizations throughout Florida agree; the Manufacturers Association of Florida, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business and Associated Industries of Florida have all voiced strong support for the Governor’s proposal. By doubling the state’s QRT funding to $12 million, Florida will send an important message to businesses: We want to support your commitment to excellence by investing in the talent and training needs of your company.
The investments we make now in building the talent supply of tomorrow will reap so many benefits; for businesses, for their employees and for their families. By doubling QRT funding, we will multiply our opportunities for a stronger Florida.
Dwayne E. Ingram is chairman of the Workforce Florida Board of Directors, president of Crimson Consulting, and has held senior leadership positions with Amadeus Americas and IBM.