Tag Archives: idaho

Employers: Changes in Wages, Working Conditions for Range Livestock Herders

New rules surrounding job conditions for H-2A workers who herd sheep, goats and other livestock mean employers must pay a wage that equals or exceeds the highest of a monthly pay rate, a collective bargaining agreement wage, or an applicable minimum wage set by court or law.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the old requirements — adopted in 2010 — do not readily apply to unique occupations that place workers in remote locations where they are on call 24 hours per day, seven days a week. The scarcity of U.S. workers employed in the field have also made setting an appropriate minimum wage difficult, resulting in what the federal agency refers to as “wage stagnation for nearly 20 years.”

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Executive Director for St. Vincent De Paul Inspires Other Employers

Jeff Conroy, executive director for St. Vincent De Paul, encourages all of his employees to have a voice in how the company is run.

Jeff shared his principles of operation at the February Partners in Business event in Post Falls. A record number of attendees came to hear him discuss his Vinny University.

Jeff Conroy

Jeff Conroy

New employees at St. Vincent DePaul attend Vinny University which includes a 12-week course inspired by the book, ‘The Disney Way’ by Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson. Jeff shared some of the original success principles in the book including ‘having fun.’

After employees complete that course, they move to an 8-week class called “Creating Magic” taken from a book with the same name written by Lee Cockerell. Jeff’s motto is “Don’t be acceptable, be exceptional!”

Jeff’s employees are called ‘team members’ and they have a voice in the operational improvement of the organization. In addition, they have developed their own incentive plans. When problems occur, the issues are brought to the ‘Breakfast Club’ (think tank) for ‘story boarding.’

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Career Information is For Adults Too

Idaho’s Career Information System is not just for kids. The free, customized online tool also helps adults stay on a solid path toward a successful future while they are in school, training or pursuing a new career.

AdultCISUser copyStudents and adults with career plans are more likely to stay in school, pursue a higher education and once they enter the world of work, see greater promotional opportunities. Accessing Idaho’s Career Information System is free and can help both parents and children:

  • Understand how interests and strengths connect to the world of work
  • Define a career path
  • Decide areas of study to pursue in middle/junior high, high school and college
  • Find the training, education, knowledge – and money – necessary for following their dreams.

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Taking the Mystery out of the Americans With Disabilities Act

We often hear from Idaho businesses that are unsure what they are required to do for job seekers or employees with disabilities. Army - prosthetic leg b&w

What many don’t know is any Idaho business with five or more employees must provide the same employment opportunities to qualified applicants and employees with disabilities that are available to those without disabilities, and they must provide any reasonable accommodations necessary for successful employment, except where such accommodation would cause undue hardship.

What’s the Definition of a Disability?

  • A disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities or when someone is regarded as having or has a record (or past history) of such impairment. Continue reading

FAQ Friday – Unemployment extensions are ending. What can I do to prepare?

A: You are correct; extended unemployment insurance benefits are scheduled to end December 30, 2012, which means no more extended benefit payments each week.

Job fairs are only one of several free services offered by 25 Labor offices located throughout the state. This photo is from a job fair held this fall at the Idaho Center in Nampa.

We all know winter is a tough time to be looking for work in Idaho, which is why now is a good time to take advantage of the many Labor services available to help you find a job:

  • Résumés that highlight your skills, knowledge and abilities;
  • Training resources to help upgrade your skills;
  • Job interview assistance including how to organize your thoughts and present yourself as a strong, confident candidate;
  • Answering difficult questions about your work history;
  • Overcoming barriers you think may be preventing you from getting hired; and
  • Using social media to network your way into your next job.

All of these services and more – like job clubs, professional networking groups and every workshop we offer – are available to the public at no cost.

Yes, a good job can still be hard to find in today’s economy, but we see new job listings every day, so give us a call or visit your nearest local office.

FAQ Friday – How does the Idaho Department of Labor recover money from illegal claims?

People who claim benefits when they aren’t eligible are required to repay any and all overpayments in full, with a penalty assessed if the overpayment was due to fraud.

The department is very aggressive about collecting overpayments. If the claimant is employed, the department will garnish their wages. Yes – this means their new employers will discover they owe us money.

Other steps include garnishing the spouse’s wages, filing an administrative lien on personal property such as vehicles or private property, and seizing bank accounts and tax refunds.

Collection activity is a lot of work, but worth the investment. Allowing improperly paid benefits to stay uncollected isn’t fair to the many unemployed people who play by the rules. Collection efforts also help prevent employers from paying unnecessary taxes for benefits.

Bottom line: Collecting benefits when you shouldn’t isn’t worth the pain of having to pay them back ─ with penalties and interest.

Seven Ways to Launch a New Career

These days there are lots of tools to choose from when considering a new career.

New this year, the Healthcare Virtual Career Network provides career exploration and training tools to help job seekers prepare for careers in healthcare. Job seekers can explore healthcare careers, identify education and training programs, access online courses, get credit for prior learning, and search for local healthcare jobs.

Idaho’s Career Information System (click on Guests for the free version) has added or improved several new information files including About Programs of Study, About Schools (also available in Spanish) and Financial Aid Sort. All of these pages contain Idaho-specific information and are designed to help students make wiser choices about what schools can help them reach their career goals.  Life After High School is a tool designed to help younger students learn that training beyond high school is appropriate, sensible and affordable. Workshops on how to use this system are held throughout the state each fall and are for anyone who works with or helps students or clients develop career plans. Click here to find the workshop closest to your area.

The Worker Reemployment Portal is designed to assist impacted workers following job loss and to connect them to resources for training, reemployment, career planning, financial and emotional help during the process of job transition. The site also now includes a job search by location feature.

CareerOneStop helps job seekers explore careers, investigate salary and benefit information, research education and training opportunities, plan a job search, browse job sites, write and improve resumes and cover letters, prepare for a job interview and search for jobs. The site’s new Certification Finder  houses information on thousands of certifications and allows users to search for certifications by industry, occupation, or keyword. A new feature includes icons that highlight certifications that have been recognized, endorsed, or accredited by third-party organizations.

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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.

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.