What is the Workforce Training Fund Express Program? General Information
The Workforce Training Fund Express Program assists companies of any size (effective 9/1/2020) to address their employee training needs through a list of pre-registered courses. Eligible employers complete a short, online application to request grant funds for pre-registered training courses. Grant funds are limited to $30,000 per company per calendar year and $3,000 per employee per course.
A company whose request has been approved will be reimbursed for up to 50% of the actual cost of training. Courses that a company is legally mandated to provide to its employees are not eligible for reimbursement under this grant program (i.e. OSHA). You may only request reimbursement for training individuals who are on your company’s payroll and work in Massachusetts.
What is the mission of the Workforce Training Fund Express program?
The mission of the Workforce Training Fund Express program is to provide small businesses with the resources to improve their Massachusetts-based workers’ skills, and to maintain the economic strength and viability of the Commonwealth’s businesses. Training funded by this program should address the priorities of the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund:
- Projects that will result in job retention, job growth or increased wages.
- Projects where training would make a difference in the company’s productivity, competitiveness, and ability to do business in Massachusetts.
How is the Express program funded?
The Express program is a part of the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund. The Workforce Training Fund is funded by the Massachusetts employer community. Legislation enacted in 1998 resulted in a reduction of $121 million in unemployment insurance rate payments for Massachusetts employers in 1999. In conjunction with these lower rates legislation also established the Workforce Training Fund. The Fund collects between $18 and $22 million annually to pay for Workforce Training Fund grant programs. Since the inception of the Workforce Training Fund, more than $200 million in training grants have been awarded to Massachusetts employers.
How much money is available?
More than $1 million is available each year for Express Program training grants.
How do I know if I’m eligible to apply?
Effective 9/1/2020, businesses of any size may apply. In order to qualify, businesses must pay into the Workforce Training Fund. All for-profit companies pay into the fund. If you are a non-profit, see “Can I apply as a non-profit organization?” to learn if you qualify. Government agencies are not eligible to apply.
Applicants must provide a current (must be less than 6 months old) Massachusetts Department of Revenue Certificate of Good Standing with their application.
Can I apply as a non-profit organization?
To qualify, an employer must contribute to the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund. While all for-profit employers in Massachusetts contribute to the Workforce Training Fund via a surcharge on Unemployment Insurance payments, some non-profits do not. This is determined by the method selected for UI coverage. Click here to find out more about options for Nonprofit or Governmental Employer. Nonprofit organizations that select the “contributory method” are paying into the WTFP and are therefore eligible to apply. Those that select the “reimbursable method” are paying a discounted rate that does not include contribution to the WTFP and therefore are not eligible to apply.
What are the employee eligibility requirements for training?
Who is eligible for training?
Massachusetts-based employees. This means that workers whose training is funded by this program must be working at a location in the Commonwealth.
If my worksite is in Massachusetts, but some employees live outside of Massachusetts, can they be trained with these funds?
Yes. As long as your employees work in Massachusetts, they are eligible for training regardless of where they live.
Can contract workers be trained with these funds?
No, contract employees are not eligible to be trained with these funds.
Can part-time employees be trained with Workforce Training Fund funds?
Yes, both full-time and part-time employees are eligible for training.
What if my headquarters is located outside of Massachusetts?
A company with headquarters outside of Massachusetts may apply for training funds, provided that all employees to be trained work in Massachusetts (i.e. payroll taxes are paid to Massachusetts). Individual trainees are not required to live in Massachusetts, but Massachusetts must be their primary work place and payroll taxes must be paid to Massachusetts for all trainees.
Can training take place outside of Massachusetts?
Yes, training can take place outside Massachusetts. However, applicants must demonstrate that such training is cost effective and reasonable. Grant funds may not be used to pay for trainer or trainee travel expenses.
What are the application limits and types?
How many times may I apply?
Eligible employers may apply at any time based on their training needs. However, an employer will not be approved for more than $30,000 in new grant funds per calendar year.
An employer must submit an application and have an executed Express program Agreement (signed by both Commonwealth Corporation and the employer) prior to the start of any training. Contracts may only be modified through the submission of a subsequent application. Employers will only be reimbursed for courses that are identified in an Agreement that was executed prior to the start date of training. The Commonwealth’s liability is limited to the maximum obligation stated on the grant Agreement. Employers are responsible for paying for the total cost of the training and are eligible to receive 50% reimbursement upon completion of the training and the submission of required documents with a maximum of $3,000 per employee per course.
When is the best time to apply?
Express program applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. Apply online.
How long can my training program last?
Training programs must be completed within 24 months of the grant agreement date.
Can I choose any provider I want?
No. You may only select courses that are listed on the Express program website. However if you are interested in selecting a course that is not currently registered, you may wish to encourage the training provider to register the course. Please note, the Workforce Training Fund Program makes no judgment regarding the availability or quality of a training course listed on the Workforce Training Fund Express program website. The placement of a training course on the Express program web site does not constitute an endorsement of that training course or provider. You are encouraged to research the applicable training provider/course to learn about its reputation, cost and course availability prior to submitting an application.
Training must be provided by an independent third party with no financial interest in the company receiving training.
Where can I find the pre-approved list of training courses?
A complete directory of courses is available on the Express Course Directory.
What are the requirements for trainers?
The Workforce Training Fund Program makes no judgment regarding the availability or quality of a training course listed on the Workforce Training Fund Express website. The placement of a training course on the Express website does not constitute an endorsement of the training course or provider.
You are encouraged to research the applicable training provider/ course to learn about its reputation, cost and course availability prior to submitting an application.
Each course is required to meet the following standards:
- The training provider must have been in business for at minimum two years;
- All grant funded expenses must be the direct cost of the delivery of training, must be consistent with the course as registered, and must be reasonable;
- The course must be consistent with the purpose and policy of the Workforce Training Fund;
- Training providers may be required to submit course syllabi or detailed description of the curricula.
What are the restrictions on types of training and costs?
What kind of training is allowed?
The Workforce Training Fund Express Program assists companies of any sizes (effective 9/1/2020) to address their employee training needs through a list of pre-registered courses. Courses that a company is legally mandated to provide to its employees are not eligible for reimbursement under this grant program (i.e. OSHA). You may only request reimbursement for training individuals who are on your company’s payroll and work in Massachusetts.
Is it necessary to train all of my employees in order to receive a grant?
No, you may choose to send one or more employees to training.
What are permitted training costs under a Workforce Training Fund Express grant?
All of the courses listed on the database have a description of what is included in the cost. The Express program will reimburse an employer for up to half of the cost of approved courses, but the amount reimbursed to the employer may not exceed $3,000 per trainee, per course. The cost of the course may not include food or travel expenses.
Will the fund pay for apprenticeship training or training leading to state licensing?
The Workforce Training Fund seeks to supplement, rather than replace or duplicate existing investment training. The Workforce Training Fund does not fund union-sponsored apprenticeship training because it is mandated training and the cost of training is paid by union members as part of their dues. Nor does the program fund mandatory certification training which is considered to be a continuing cost of business. The Workforce Training Fund will consider funding training if it is above and beyond the training required or mandated for state or union certification.
What if I am able to negotiate a lower cost for the training than is listed on the Express website?
The Express program will reimburse you for no more than 50% of the actual cost of the training, not to exceed the original approved amount and not to exceed $3,000 per trainee.
For example, if a course is listed at a cost of $6,000 per trainee and you state in the application that you plan to send 3 workers to the training, your total approved training cost would be $18,000, of which the Express program would agree to reimburse you $9,000. If you negotiate a lower cost and the training ends up costing a $12,000 for your 3 workers, the Express program would reimburse you $6,000.
How many courses can I apply for on one application?
Express applications are limited to a maximum of ten (10) courses. You may submit more than one application if more than 10 courses are needed.
What is the “Employer Cash Match”?
When training is completed, the Express program will reimburse the employer up to 50% of the cost of the training courses that are listed on the employer’s executed agreement. The employer is responsible for paying the total cost of the training. The employer will submit a reimbursement request to be reimbursed for up to 50% of the cost of the approved training. The employer’s share of the cost of the training is the “applicant payment.”
Can I match the grant with employee salaries?
No. The employer will pay the total cost of training and will be reimbursed up to 50% of that cost by the Express program.
What are my financial obligations?
An employer requesting reimbursement for training courses (and only in relation to an executed Express program Agreement with Commonwealth Corporation listing the courses) must first pay the total cost of the training to be eligible to receive up to 50% of the total cost of training. For example, 10 employees may be trained in approved courses at a cost of $1,000 per employee for a total of $10,000. The employer would pay the training provider $10,000 and the Express program would reimburse the employer $5,000.
What additional paperwork is required?
Following the completion of the training program, the employer must submit an Express program reimbursement request, along with a copy of the provider invoice and proof of payment. In addition, by signing the Express program Agreement, the employer agrees to participate in any program-wide evaluation of the Workforce Training Fund that may be undertaken in the future.
How and when will I be reimbursed?
Funds will be reimbursed via check within 30 days of receipt of a complete reimbursement request. A reimbursement request includes a completed and signed reimbursement form, a list of trainee names, an invoice from the training provider and proof that the employer has paid the total cost of training (cancelled checks or bank statements). Errors, missing documentation and inconsistency with the executed Express program agreement may delay payment.
When can I actually start my training program?
Training may not start until the applicant has returned an executed (signed by both Commonwealth Corporation and the employer) Express Program Agreement and may not start prior to the approved start date listed on the agreement. Commonwealth Corporation is under no obligation to pay for training costs incurred prior to the Agreement start date. It takes a minimum of 21 days to review an application and generate an agreement; this should be taken into consideration in planning to send employees to a training program.
What do I need to know about the review process? How long does it take?
All applications undergo an internal screening by Commonwealth Corporation. It takes a minimum of 21 days to review an application and generate an agreement, provided all application information is complete and all required materials have been submitted. Training may not start without an executed agreement.
What are the criteria for approval?
Applicants will be reviewed using the following criteria:
- Effective 9/1/2020, a business or labor organization of any size that contributes to the Workforce Training Fund
- Training consists of a course (or courses) listed on the Training Provider database
- Total grant request does not exceed $30,000
- Business has been approved for no more than $30,000 in a calendar year
- Cost per trainee paid with grant funds is no more than $3,000 per course
- All training is job-related
- Training is not already underway
- Training will be completed in less than 24 months
- Business will pay at least half of the total cost of training
- Trainees are non-government workers
- All trainees are employed in Massachusetts. (They are not required to live in Massachusetts)
- The employees participating in the training program have not previously participated in the same or similar training that was funded by the Express Program
- Submission of a current Department of Revenue Certificate of Good Standing for the business (issued within the past 6 months) with the application
- Business contributes to the Workforce Training Fund
- Business is in compliance with all obligations to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including, but not limited to tax obligations and Unemployment Insurance payments,
- Business has not been debarred from doing business with the state or federal government
What if my application is not approved?
Applicants will be informed in writing of the reasons their application is not approved. Applicants that have not been approved for the Express Program may be eligible to re-apply.
How do I request a Certificate of Good Standing from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue?
Businesses may apply online at the Massachusetts Department of Revenue for a Certificate of Good Standing. Your application will not be considered complete until you have submitted a valid Certificate of Good Standing.
If I receive a grant will there be tax implications?
There may be tax implications for receipt of a Workforce Training Fund Express grant. Businesses are encouraged to discuss these implications with their tax advisors.
How do I get assistance and additional information?
For more information about Express Program grants & course registration, please email: