The events of the past year have proven that organizations that never thought they could function remotely can still conduct business. A recent Gartner poll showed that 48% of employees will likely work remotely at least part of the time after COVID-19. The way we work has changed at an exponential pace. To remain competitive, companies of all kinds must make sure their workforce has current, industry-recognized skills, especially the ability to communicate and collaborate digitally. And thanks to the Workforce and Innovation Act, or WIOA, the South Central Workforce Council can help.

We offer a matching grant for continuing education, training, and upskilling of incumbent — existing — employees. Called Incumbent Worker Training, or IWT for short, the grant is meant to increase a company’s competitive edge, avert potential layoffs, and help eligible businesses train and retain employees by providing skills upgrades and advancement opportunities for existing employees. IWT provides funding for training conducted with a commitment to retain incumbent workers. It offers flexibility regarding the types of training and the training provider, based upon the organization’s overall workforce development needs.

As with all federal grants, there is a detailed application process and eligibility requirements. Eligible businesses must be current on all Washington state taxes, and 51% of employees enrolled in training must have an established employment history. Since IWT is a matching grant, businesses must provide a contribution to the training program based on the size of their organization. This contribution can include wages paid to their employees during the time they are in training, as well as other in-kind contributions.

We accept IWT applications from organizations conducting business in Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania and/or Yakima County. If this sounds like something that benefit your business, visit and look at “Train Your Employees” under the Business menu.

Michelle Smith is an employer engagement analyst for the South Central Workforce Development Council in Yakima.