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Incumbent Worker Training

The Incumbent Worker Training Program (IWT) is a competitive grant that provides funding to help eligible Tennessee businesses effectively train and retain employees by providing skills upgrades and process improvement training for existing, full-time employees.

All applications must be received by the close of business on January 31, 2017 to be considered.

  Apply for Grant

Qualifying Businesses

  • Grantee must be a classified as a Tennessee for-profit business (or a not-for-profit business in health care)
  • Businesses in operation at least one year
  • Businesses which employ at least five full-time employees
  • Businesses current on all local, state, and federal tax obligations
  • Businesses not currently or recently experiencing, nor expecting to experience, a bankruptcy – all businesses must be a financially viable
  • Businesses must not appear on any federal suspensions or debarment list

Costs That May Qualify for Reimbursement

Grant funding may reimburse all or part of the costs of training eligible employees.  Reimbursable expenses include:

  • Instructors'/trainers' salaries (capped at actual amount or $50/hour if company trainers are used, whichever is less)
  • Curriculum development (not to exceed 5% of total State obligation.  State obligation is defined as the time necessary for company officials to determine training needs or the actual development of curriculum)
  • Textbooks and manuals
  • Materials and supplies
  • Tuition expenses (tuition defined as being provided by an institution regulated by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission)

Non-Reimbursable Costs

  • Trainees' wages
  • Purchases of capital equipment
  • Purchase of any item or service that may possibly be used outside of the training project
  • Travel expenses of trainers or trainees
  • Assessment, testing, or certification fees
  • Language training unless specific to terms of employment
  • Advertisement or recruitment

Grant Funding Is Limited

Incumbent Worker Training grant funds are limited and are therefore awarded on a competitive basis.  Once a company has received funding for two consecutive years it must skip one full year before it is eligible to receive another grant.  For example: if a company is awarded a grant in 2015 and 2016 it must skip calendar year 2017 before becoming eligible for additional grants.Applicants will be given preference based upon a score derived from criteria met on the Incumbent Worker Training Criteria sheet.  The ‘Required Information’ questions, totaling 25 points, are intended to ensure that applicants fulfill all basic criteria to be eligible for the grant.  The questions in ‘Desired Outcome’, totaling 50 points, are awarded based on criteria such as how many jobs are created or saved and growth of short and long-term wages.  A detailed ‘Training Plan’ is then required in brief essay format, worth 25 points.  Finally, there is a ‘Special Points’ section. worth 15 points, where points are awarded if Local Workforce Development Areas (LWDAs) and Local Career Center Services are used.  If all criteria has been met, the maximum score is 115 points, but a proposal must score at least 80 points to be considered by the state.

A copy of this criteria sheet can be found on page 7 of the Incumbent Worker Training policy.


Allotment Methodology

The Incumbent Worker Training grant funding for 2017 has been set at $1,000,000 for use throughout Tennessee.    The funding and training period is for six (6) months (January 1 through June 30, 2017).  All training must be completed by June 30, 2017.  Funds are allocated on a regional basis which covers 13 LWDAs with allotment set at:

  • East TN Region
  • (LWDAs: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • $333,333
  • Middle TN Region
  • (LWDAs: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  • $333,333
  • West TN Region
  • (LWDAs: 11, 12, 13)
  • $333,333

For assistance, a list of LWDA contact information is available, complete with the counties that make up each LWDA.

To apply for IWT assistance you must complete the online application. Once submitted, the appropriate regional and LWDA staff will be notified of your completed application.

In addition to the allotment referenced above, The Workforce Innovation Opportunities Act  (WIOA) allows LWDBs to set aside and use up to 20% of local Adult and/or Dislocated Worker funds on incumbent worker training programs (see WIOA sec. 134(d)(4)).


When to Apply

All applications must be received by the close of business on January 31, 2017 to be considered.

Incumbent Worker Training grant applications must be submitted online and is available now. Applications are accepted at any time between December 15, 2016 and prior to January 31, 2017.  It is recommended that you submit your application at least 30 days prior to the start of your training. Training funds cannot be used to reimburse any training costs incurred before the grant is approved.  All training from statewide funds has to be completed by June 30, 2017.


Application Process

Contact your Local Workforce Development Area for assistance concerning completion and submission of applications.  LWDAs will evaluate and score of each submitted application on a regional basis (East/Middle/West).  The LWDA that is representative (based on county) of the company or business will submit applications with a letter of support to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) Workforce Services Division to be reviewed for compliance by business service unit and fiscal staff.


Applications Must Be Submitted Online

All required attachments and supportive documentation must be submitted and uploaded via the online application.  If you are not able to upload all the required documents please contact your local LWDA to submit a copy of the documents.  Applicants should save a copy of the online application submission for their records.

Notification of approval must be received prior to start of any training and a contract initiated with the LWDA.

Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development Business Service staff will review Regional LWDA applications for compliance and completeness.  Business Service staff will then forward recommended applications, based on Regional LWDA recommendation, for Commissioner’s review and signature.  Upon signed approval from the Commissioner, LWDAs will be advised and letters of approval will be sent to the LWDAs and the grantee.


Training Services

All training must be completed by the last day of the specific program period.  All programs with statewide funds need to have end dates that complete training no later than June 30, 2017.  All training should have specific start and end dates.  Training with local funds (i.e. Adult/Dislocated Worker funds) must have an end date prior to December 31, 2017.

Training can be provided through Tennessee's public or private educational institutions, private training organizations, trainers employed by the business, or a combination of training providers.

Training can be conducted at the business's own facility, at the training provider's facility, or at a combination of sites.


Grant Awards Requirements

  • Businesses approved for funds must enter into a contract with their LWDA.  The contract commits the business to complete the training criteria as proposed in its application, as well as committing to compliance with all applicable local, state, and federal laws.
  • Approved budget items are reimbursed upon presentation of adequate documentation of the training and evidence that the training expense incurred has been paid.
  • Businesses must submit monthly reimbursement requests, with required supporting documentation, to their LWDA representative.
  • Once a company has received funding for two consecutive years it must skip one full year before it is eligible to receive another grant.  For example: if a company is awarded a grant in 2015 and 2016 it must skip calendar year 2017 before becoming eligible for additional grants.
  • Businesses must keep accurate records of the project's implementation process and certify that all information provided, for the purpose of requesting reimbursements and reporting training activity, is accurate and true.
  • Businesses approved for funds must complete a monthly status report.  The monthly report will only take a few minutes and must be completed online.
  • Any other contract provisions established by the LWDA must be met by the employer.

Monthly Status Report Requirement

Businesses approved for funds must complete a monthly status report.  The monthly report will only take a few minutes and must be completed online.


Project Completion

  • All grant projects shall be performance based with specific measurable performance outcomes including: the completion rate of the training project, number of employees trained, beginning and ending wages of trainees, and customer satisfaction.
  • Any payment for businesses receiving IWT grants will be withheld if any report is not submitted or all performance criteria specified in the grant have not been achieved.  Final reports must be submitted prior to receiving final payment.
  • Businesses must provide sufficient documentation (including proof of eligibility to work in the U.S.) to the LWDA for identification of all employee participants for calculation of performance measures required by WIOA, and for any other outcomes deemed pertinent to the grant administrator.
  • When an IWT grant award is made it is for the completion of specific training components.  If the company does not complete those training components by the end of the contract period then their final reimbursement will be pro-rated to bring their total reimbursement for the project in line with the actual training components completed.