Monthly Archives: August 2012

Pocatello’s John Schwartz: Finding More than Just Another Job

Listen to John Schwartz, a graduate of Idaho State University, talk about how the training he received at the ISU College of Technology  successfully shaped his future:

Today, Schwartz  one of the first graduates of the program, is owner and operator of EASY Solutions, a company specializing in renewable energy needs.

“EASY Solutions is committed to being an absolute success in the eyes of the ISU faculty by keeping the education I received in Idaho, benefiting Idaho families and businesses,” said Schwartz.

ISU’S Renewable Energy Systems program is a nine month program that prepares students to work in an industry in need of skilled professionals. It was funded in part through a $5.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor which allowed the state to help install state-of-the-art equipment in classrooms throughout Idaho and strengthen dual-credit programs where high school students earn post-secondary credits before they graduate.

Idaho was one of 34 states to receive a green grant from the $190 million earmarked in a 2009 economic stimulus package designed to expand the nation’s labor pool with the skills needed by emerging industries like renewable and efficient energy. Nearly $4.5 million of the $5.9 million received was  distributed to 22 Idaho schools, with the Idaho AFL-CIO receiving the rest for apprenticeship programs.

Learn more more about ISU’s program at www.isu.edu/estec or call (208) 282-2622.

FAQ Friday – Can I ask for my personnel records?

Q: I want to ask for a copy of my personnel record from my last Idaho employer.  What time frame does the employer have to respond to this request?  Can the employer charge a fee for photocopying?  If so, what is the standard rate?

A: According to Idaho law, employers must maintain employment records for a minimum of three (3) years from the last date of the employee’s service. Personnel documents are considered to be the property of the employer, consequently, any obligation to share these documents, absent a subpoena, is contractual between the company and the employee or the company and its union.

The best thing to do is to first simply ask for the records from the employer. Typically, the individual would be allowed to view the file on the company’s premises and to make copies of documents, which often can be at the individual’s expense. However, even if your former employer agrees to do so, there is no law that requires an them to provide or send the complete file.

If that fails, request the documents through an attorney or Legal Aid.

As a point of interest, Idaho law does require employers to provide, upon request by the employee, information in writing on rate of pay and day of payment. Employers are also required to – at the employee’s request – provide notice to its employees of any reduction in wages prior to the work being performed.

Employees’ Transferrable Skills Take Them Beyond Transform Solar

Director Madsen,

While it is unfortunate we are shutting down due to our loss  of shareholder funding, please know  the training we provided all of our employees is fully transferable and should help make them better trained employees for other Idaho employers. The grant money allowed us to train our employees at a much faster cadence than we would have been able to accomplish without it. Our employees were exposed to many different types of training including Safety, Manufacturing, Semiconductor Process, Photovoltaic overview, Project Management, Kepner-Tregoe Problem Solving and Decision Making, Lean and Six Sigma theories, 6S, and Quality.

Benefits Transform Solar received due to the grant include creation of a workforce development team, learning management system, pre-packaged computer based training modules for soft skills, a 10 desktop computer lab, a 10 laptop mobile computer lab and library of texts and manuals.

Strategic training partnerships created through this grant include a leadership development program with Boise State University, classes on programmable logic controllers with the College of Western Idaho, photovoltaic training with Austrailia National University and Treasure Valley Community College, internal technology knowledge transfer, attendance at national and international industry related conferences and seminars, and employee engagement through professional development.

I would like to extend our sincere appreciation to you, the Idaho Department of Labor and your team for awarding a Workforce Development Training Fund grant to Transform Solar. Both Leandra Burns and Jenny Hemly provided our company with exemplary service. Your team was always open to discussions on how the grant monies could be utilized which allowed our start-up flexibility in how the funds were used

Thanks to the department’s investment in Transform and its people, we wind down our business confident we utilized these precious training dollars to the best of our ability and the overall benefit to Idaho employers who become the beneficiaries of our people’s increased knowledge and skills. We are truly grateful for this experience.

Best Regards,

Rhett Dreger
Workforce Development Manager

Jana Straubhar
Human Resources Director

Editor’s Note: Idaho’s Workforce Development Training Fund was created in 1996 and has since helped hundreds of expanding Idaho companies train new employees as well as upgrade the skills of current workers at risk of layoff. Established in 1996, the fund is financed by the state’s businesses through a setaside from the unemployment insurance tax. Idaho businesses have tapped the fund to train over 20,000 workers for more than 200 companies since its inception. The application process is designed for quick turnaround with minimal paperwork.  To qualify companies must:
• Produce a product or service sold outside the region where their businesses are located;
• Pay the trained employees at least $12 an hour plus employer-assisted medical benefits; and
• Increase their current workforce or retrain existing staff who otherwise face layoffs.

Companies interested in learning more about the fund should contact their nearest local office or visit the workforce training section of  labor.idaho.gov.

Labor Reaches Another Milestone in Upgrading its Computer System

Earlier today the Idaho Department of Labor shifted more of its unemployment insurance tax processing data from an aging mainframe computer to a more efficient and less expensive Web-based system.

This is the second release in the department’s transition to the new computer system called iUS. The first module rolled out in April dealt with unemployment insurance employer tax accounts, significantly increasing the system’s functionality.

With Wednesday’s release, the department moved nearly all its tax inquiry screens off its mainframe computer. The shift cuts the number of screens tax staff work with in half; improves the search, filter and sorting capabilities; enhances screen layout for better readability; provides access to more historical data and upgrades the administrative functions used in managing employer accounts.

The Idaho Department of Labor began redesigning its computer system over two years ago, prompted by the fact that its legacy system dates back to the late 1970s and has been stretched to its limits by numerous modifications to accommodate changes in the unemployment insurance program over the past three decades. The groundwork for the new system was laid during Idaho’s participation with Arizona, Wyoming and North Dakota in initial design work on new computer programs all states could adopt for their unemployment insurance programs. This four-state project was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Chief Deputy Director John McAllister said the staff are working on the new system with a sense of urgency because maintaining the old legacy system has become increasingly expensive and finding technicians with those skills has proven to be very difficult.

But more importantly, McAllister said, “the risk of our legacy system failing and causing major disruptions in unemployment insurance services increases with every passing day.”

The transition to the Web-based system is expected to be complete by late 2014. The new system will accommodate all future modifications needed to keep up with changes in the unemployment insurance program.

Western States Equipment Writes Us About the Value of Worker Training

Dear Idaho Department of Labor,

The Idaho Workforce Development Training Fund helped us provide high quality CAT Diesel training to 20 + newly hired technicians this past year.

The ability to conduct this valuable training with Workforce Development Training Funds has been critical to our growth and overall success. We were able to meet the skills gap in our industry while putting talented Idaho technicians back to work! Our experience with this program has been so phenomenal, that we already have plans in place for another contract with the Idaho Department of Labor for January 2013.

The whole process has been very smooth and extremely flexible… much easier than I anticipated! I can’t thank the folks at the Department of Labor enough for being so accommodating to our unique business needs. I only wish that we had known about this incredible resource sooner!

Cameron Pickett
Employment Recruiter
Western States Equipment Co.

Editor’s Note: Idaho’s Workforce Development Training Fund was created in 1996 and has since helped hundreds of expanding Idaho companies train new employees as well as upgrade the skills of current workers at risk of layoff. Established in 1996, the fund is financed by the state’s businesses through a setaside from the unemployment insurance tax. Idaho businesses have tapped the fund to train over 20,000 workers for more than 200 companies since its inception. The application process is designed for quick turnaround with minimal paperwork.  To qualify companies must:
• Produce a product or service sold outside the region where their businesses are located;
• Pay the trained employees at least $12 an hour plus employer-assisted medical benefits; and
• Increase their current workforce or retrain existing staff who otherwise face layoffs.

Companies interested in learning more about the fund should contact their nearest local office or visit the workforce training section of  labor.idaho.gov.