On-the-job training gives companies peace of mind, cash back

Employees willing to learn and work hard are welcome at Industrial Metal Fabricators
Being based in picturesque Marine City has its definite perks – but also one disadvantage for companies, as Mike Parslow, general manager of Industrial Metal Fabricators, can attest.

"With our location, it's hard to get a good draw of qualified employees," he says of his metal fabrication shop that employs 17. "There is so much industry to the south of us that they rob all the good people. It's really hard to find qualified people because the way the market is right now, anyone who is good is already working."

Mike Parslow says On The Job Training has helped his find good, hard-working employees.So Parslow has partnered up with the Michigan Works! Macomb/St. Clair On-the-Job Training (OJT) program to not only fill vacancies but save on the costs of onboarding new workers. Open to companies offering full-time positions that pay a minimum of $12 per hour, the OJT program's numerous benefits include reimbursing employers half of a new hire's wage for the first three months.

Most everyone is celebrating Michigan's low unemployment rate of 3.9 percent, but those who are scrambling to fill positions can be caught in a bind. Many companies don't realize that Michigan Works! stands ready to help both businesses and workers in myriad ways.

Eligible employees in the OTJ program are extensively screened and include veterans, those who have exhausted their unemployment benefits and/or people receive public assistance like food stamps. Michigan Works! Business Service representatives pre-screen candidates before sending them out for interviews, or companies find their own hires and then "reverse-refer" them to the agency to see if they qualify for OJT benefits. Either way, it's a win-win for all concerned.

"Since it's really hard for us to find good, qualified welder fabricators, we decided to bring in people with less or no experience On The Job Training helps employers find dedicated crew members.
– if they are willing to learn," says Parslow. "Michigan Works! has much better sources than I have. I do your typical ads on Craig's List and Facebook, but they really go the extra mile for you. They know what I am looking for: people who want to work and will show up and learn."

As virtually any company knows, finding those motivated employees can be a major challenge, says Scott Bolt, a Michigan Works! business account manager who has helped IMF place five workers in the OJT program.

"We host hiring events or job fairs for employers and just make it as painless as possible for them to find train people – as long as the workers have the attitude and aptitude," says Bolt. "We help the companies come up with the job descriptions and post the jobs on Pure Michigan Talent Connect (the state's web-based talent matchmaking site). What we hear from companies we work with is, ‘why didn't we do this sooner?'"

Industrial Metal Fabricators has a variety of positions to fill.Other common queries, Bolt says, are, "What's the catch?" and "How can this possibly be free?" Michigan Works! Business Account Manager Christina Bean hears it all the time as she helps organizations fill job openings.

"I point out to them that it's not free – they are paying for our services through their taxes," says Bean. "And after they use this program once or twice, they're hooked."

It can be sometimes elusive to see tax dollars directly at work, but that's exactly the case with OJT. "More companies use it than any of our programs," says Colin Miller, Michigan Works! talent specialist and Business Resource Network coordinator. "And if they find their own candidate and reverse-refer to us, we can get it all done and approved in as fast as three to five business days."

Mike Duffy, associate director at Blue Water Counseling in Fort Gratiot, Mike Duffy, associate director at Blue Water Counseling in Fort Gratiot, has hired several clerical workers through On The Job Training.has hired several clerical workers through OJT.

"I was really surprised when I first heard about it," he says, "and now I think it's wonderful. We spend a lot of time with new employees training them, so this really helps. It's a good program and I definitely recommend it."

Michigan Works! offers tailored programs that help job seekers including young people, veterans, those returning to the workforce, senior citizens and ex-offenders. The organization also works with businesses and organizations to attract and retain talent. Learn more about the On-the-Job Training program and other resources by contacting Michigan Works! Macomb/St. Clair at (586) 469-5819 or visiting macomb-stclairworks.org.
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