State Focuses on Training Idaho’s Workforce

Last year Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter proposed and the 2017 Idaho Legislature approved $2.5 million in general funds to be added to the Idaho Workforce Development Training Fund, a key economic growth program administered by the Idaho Department of Labor. To make sure those dollars were spent based on industry input the governor appointed an industry-based task force to make recommendations on how the money could be used to “close the gap between the training and education Idaho job seekers have and the skills that Idaho employers need.”

Once the Workforce Task Force Report was finished in June, Governor Otter followed up with Executive Order 2017-12 which gives the Workforce Development Council more authority, allows it to be more independent and industry-driven and begins the implementation of several task force recommendations including:

  • The expansion of the Workforce Development Council from 26 to 36 representatives with an increase in the number of industry leaders and people representing specific populations serving on the board;
  • The appointment of Wendi Secrist as the executive director responsible for providing administrative support, developing a strategic plan and coordinating all of the state’s workforce development and training programs; and
  • Increased industry involvement in the development of procedures, criteria and performance measures for the Workforce Development Training Fund.

In January, Governor Otter will propose several statutory changes that support these recommendations and others outlined in the report. I encourage you to read the Governor’s Workforce Task Force Report and Executive Order 2017-12.

The Idaho Workforce Development Training Fund was started in 1996 and is administered by the Idaho Department of Labor. Grant funds are used to reimburse businesses for the cost of training new workers or retraining existing workers with skills necessary for specific economic opportunities and industrial expansion initiatives.

Eligible businesses must produce a product or service sold outside the region, and the jobs must pay at least $12 an hour and include employer-assisted health insurance. The fund is financed by a 3 percent set-aside of the unemployment insurance taxes paid by businesses each year.

Our business specialists are ready to discuss this workforce development opportunity with employers and help with the application process. Find more details, grant applications and contact information for a business specialist in your area at

– Idaho Labor Director Melinda S. Smyser