Labor Day 2009 could become “Train for a New Career” Day for many unemployed workers in Washington.
Under a new state law that takes effect on Sept. 7, unemployed workers in Washington who are disabled, low-income, members of the Washington National Guard or recently discharged from the military may take advantage of a training-support program that previously was available only to dislocated workers.
The Training Benefits Program is operated by the Employment Security Department. It allows qualified workers to receive unemployment benefits for up to 52 weeks, rather than the usual maximum of 26 weeks, while enrolled in approved training for a new occupation. Unlike other unemployment claimants, training-benefits participants don’t have to look for a new job while they’re enrolled in training.
The program was created in 2000 for workers who were deemed unlikely to return to their previous occupation or industry, and who needed training to qualify for jobs that are in demand locally. The primary beneficiaries have been displaced manufacturing workers who also qualified for unemployment benefits.
But there are many other unemployed workers who also need training to improve their job prospects, said Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee, who advocated the program’s expansion.
“Until now, this program wasn’t available for many of our workers who need it the most,” said Lee. “These are people who have a track record of holding down a job or serving our country, and who need a little help to get back to work in a career that has a future.”
The Training Benefits Program pays only for weekly unemployment benefits. Enrollees are responsible for paying or obtaining financial aid for tuition, fees and other training expenses.
“Training and education help workers stay employed and earn more,” said Lee. “With training benefits, we can put that option within reach for more people who are struggling to make a better life for themselves.”
Since unemployment benefits are paid on a Sunday-through-Saturday schedule, training benefits for newly eligible enrollees who have been approved for the program will begin on Sept. 13.
To participate, eligible workers must submit a training plan within 90 days (and enroll in an approved training program within 120 days) after they receive their unemployment claims kit from Employment Security. The kit contains information about the Training Benefits Program.
Information and application packets also are available by phone (800-318-6022), by visiting a local WorkSource Office or online (http://www.esd.wa.gov/uibenefits/specialservices/training/training-benefits.php).
Details of expanded eligibility criteria Unemployed workers who: · Were disabled by an injury or illness and need training for a new occupation. · Earned less than 130 percent of the state’s minimum wage in their qualifying year and need training to get a higher-paying job. For example, a worker whose qualifying year is 2009 would have to average less than $11.11 an hour to be eligible (based on the 2009 minimum wage of $8.55 an hour). · Were honorably discharged from the military or the Washington National Guard in the prior 12 months and who need training to find suitable work in their community. · Are current members of the Washington National Guard who need training to find a suitable job locally.
Web links Employment Security Department: esd.wa.gov Training Benefits: http://www.esd.wa.gov/uibenefits/specialservices/training/training-benefits.php Find a WorkSource office: https://fortress.wa.gov/esd/worksource/StaticContent.aspx?Context=WSDirectorySeeker
Radio version A new state law takes effect on Labor Day that makes more unemployed workers eligible for the state’s Training Benefits Program.
Previously, the program was available only for dislocated workers who were deemed unlikely to find work in their past occupation.
The new law opens the program to unemployed workers who are disabled, low-income, members of the Washington National Guard, or recently discharged from the military.
The workers also must meet the usual eligibility requirements for unemployment insurance.
For more information, contact the Employment Security Department.