Five free employment services available to businesses

All of these types of services are funded by federal programs and grants and free to local business owners

In 2017, the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce and the Kelso Longview Chamber of Commerce partnered with WorkSource to create the Business Services Consortium. The Business Services Consortium provides a comprehensive suite of employment-related services to help businesses in Clark, Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties get their jobs posted, screen candidates, train new employees, retrain existing employees and programs to help avoid downsizing when times are tough.

All of these services are funded by federal programs and grants, and are consequently free to business owners. To put an even finer point on it, the Business Services Consortium currently has money to give employers.

On-The-Job-Training Grants

Candidates with the right experience and skillset are tough to find. It is a challenge to find candidates who not only have the right attitudes and aptitudes for your firm, but candidates who also possess a good mix of education and experience. Finding candidates with the specialized training you need has become more critical to your business success. Thousands of jobs are open to applicants, but often go unfilled for the lack of candidates with proper training for those jobs.

WorkSource’s On the Job Training (OJT) program is a grant program designed to reimburse a portion of the training costs (wages) associated with hiring new employees with those right attitudes and aptitudes, but who need additional training to be able to successfully handle the jobs of today. If you have a situation where you have a potential new hire with the right mix of attitude and aptitude, but needs training to bring them up to speed, WorkSource has funding available now for eligible candidates.

Recruitment and Screening Services

Anyone who has gone through the process of hiring new employees knows how challenging and sometimes costly that process can be. Crafting job postings that attract the right candidates is an art; too narrow a posting won’t get you enough candidates and too broad a posting results in a stack of resumes and candidates who are unsuitable for your position. WorkSource’s Business Services Consortium team members have years of experience helping businesses with their hiring needs, and know how to craft a finely tuned job posting to get you the right candidates for your position.

The Business Services Consortium can also help you with your candidate screening needs. There is nothing worse than hiring someone you think is going to be a great new employee, only to find that they aren’t the right fit for the job or for your company. WorkSource has the experience to help you through the interviewing process, and to help you screen candidates with the use of a number of software tools designed to help you assess your candidates’ fit for your job and your firm.

Incumbent Worker Training

When existing workers lack needed training, businesses experience skills gaps. A company’s ability to retain workers, grow and prosper can be compromised when workers’ skills grow stale. The Business Services Consortium’s Incumbent Worker Training grants can help. The program provides grants for continuing education and training of current full-time employees at Southwest Washington companies.

Incumbent worker training provides both workers and employers with the opportunity to build and maintain a quality workforce, and increase both participants’ and companies’ competitiveness. It is a type of work-based training and upskilling designed to ensure that workers can acquire the skills necessary to stay on the job and advance within the company, or to acquire the skills necessary for employers to avoid a layoff.

With a focus on helping Southwest Washington’s businesses, these grants can reimburse companies for up to 100 percent for pre-approved training costs. Companies are able to choose their training provider based on the skills needed.

Shared Work Program

If you are facing a temporary decline in business, the Shared Work Program offers you an alternative to laying off workers. Instead of laying workers off, you can reduce the work hours of your permanent employees, and they can collect partial unemployment benefits to replace a portion of their lost wages. This translates into immediate payroll savings for you, and prevents the loss of your skilled employees.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a tax incentive for employers to hire certain hard-to-place job seekers. The goal is to help these individuals become economically self sufficient and to reward employers who give them a chance. Employers who hire employees in these categories would receive federal tax credits ranging from $2,400 to $9,600. This program is currently slated to end on Dec. 31, 2019, and employers must apply online for the credit within 28 days of the new employee’s start date.

If you want more information about any of these programs offered by the Business Services Consortium and WorkSource, call Paul Montague at (360) 567-1081 or drop him a note at

Paul Montague is business solutions coordinator for the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce.

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