August 29, 2012

Picente, WIB: On-The-Job Training Funds Help Employers Hire New Workers

News Photo

Premier Aviation in Rome Cited as a Success Story
In Region’s Efforts to Find Jobs for Laid-Off Workers

Citing the success story of Premier Aviation, USA in Rome, Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr. today urged other employers to participate in the On The Job Training Program operated by the Workforce Investment Board (WIB) and funded by the New York State Department of Labor. The program, which seeks to place long-term unemployed workers who lost jobs due to the economy, can pay up to 90% of wages for new hires during the training period, said Alice Savino, Executive Director of the WIB.

Picente highlighted the achievements of Premier Aviation, a growing Oneida County employer. “Premier is a successful, growing company that saw the need for new employees. Through their use of this On The Job Training Program, they were able to hire some highly skilled workers who had lost their former jobs, and also receive a subsidy to cover part of the wages during those workers’ initial time on the job while they are still being trained. Premier was able to add good employees; the trainees were able to find good-paying jobs with a growing employer. The program is a win for everybody.”

Premier Aviation General Manager Larry Atkinson said: “The jobseekers who come to us through this program come motivated and ready to work; many of them bring significant work histories from former employment that help them succeed here in their new jobs. From our perspective, the OJT program is an outstanding success. We are able to add workers who already know the basics of how to succeed in the workplace and we receive a financial incentive that helps us reduce costs during their training period.”

Premier Aviation, USA a leading provider of airframe repair and maintenance services to owners and operators of commercial, military and other aircraft, opened Rome operations in October of 2010, building its hopes upon a multi-million-dollar capital project developed by Oneida County to transform the former Griffiss Air Force Base, which closed in 1995, into a 21st Century airport that can use the massive runway at Griffiss and new and infrastructure to serve as an economic engine for the region. Premier currently employs more than 130 employees.

During the initial round of training when Premier opened, Premier used OJT support to train 12 new hires. In the current OJT program targeting long-term unemployed workers, Premier has trained five employees.

Picente said Premier’s success can be duplicated by other employers, and encouraged them to participate in the program. “On-the-Job Training Grants offer a method to jump start re-employment for dislocated workers experiencing prolonged unemployment by enabling employers to create training and job opportunities for these individuals. Participants have the chance to ‘earn and learn,’ which means they will develop applicable occupational skills while earning a paycheck.”

Savino said this adds up to a good deal for employers. “Employers participating in these on-the-job training projects will receive partial reimbursement to offset the extraordinary cost of training workers. The projects will help workers become proficient in needed skills more quickly, which will serve to encourage employers to hire workers sooner than perhaps initially planned, facilitating the private sector hiring of well-qualified individuals to contribute to their bottom line and spur economic recovery.”

“On-the-Job Training has always been one of the most successful forms of training, because new workers come into the job to learn from experienced professionals. Employers are able to ensure that their workforce knows the skill areas they feel are the most important, and that new workers are improving their skills,” Savino said

Benefits for business employers who utilize the OJT program include a wage subsidy for new hires during the training period (typically three to four months) of between 50% and 90% of wages, pre-screening of job applicants and defrayment of hiring costs under certain conditions. Benefits for new employees include a paycheck and job training for those who were out of work. The program’s chief focus is to help long-term unemployed workers who have been out of work 26 weeks or longer and who have the kinds of skills employers demand, but have been unable on their own to find work.

 “We have many unemployed people out there who have outstanding skills from their former jobs and a solid work ethic but who also need the type of hands-on training the OJT provides so successfully begin new careers. We think this is a perfect time for employers to participate in this program,” Picente said.

The OJT program helps reimburse employers for their commitment to provide staff who train new workers. “The OJT program is a win for the workers who are hired and for employers,” Atkinson said. “Employers get some support to reduce their costs, and we get the opportunity to add a new person on their staff that we can train to Premier’s high standards. This is a perfect program to meet the needs of employers and job-seekers.”

Savino noted that the program has already been a proven success in the region. The WIB last year received $551,600 for 50 businesses that hired 104 long term unemployed individuals. Through a partnership between the WIB of Herkimer, Madison and Oneida Counties and the Chenango, Delaware, Otsego Workforce Board, the project will cover all six upstate counties. Savino said employers interested in participating can contact a staff expert to help them through the process. Contacts are:

Chenango County

Gary Waffle

607.334.2201 ext 128

Delaware County

Maggie Gilbert


Herkimer County

Michael Werenczak


Madison County

Roy Augustine


Oneida County

Michael Fay

315.339.0046 ext 226

Otsego County

Alan Sessions

607.432.4800 ext 103


Savino said employers with general questions about the program can e-mail the WIB at and the information will be forwarded to the right employer services staff person.

The WIB sets workforce strategy and goals for the six-county region’s Working Solutions System, which includes Working Solutions Centers in Utica, Rome, Herkimer and Oneida and CDO Workforce Career Centers in Oneonta, Norwich, Delhi and Sidney. The WIB works with employers in all six counties on an on-going basis to provide training to meet the needs of employers and job-seekers. The WIB works with a broad coalition of public and private partners to develop innovative solutions to the region’s short-term and long-term workforce development needs. Employers with training needs should contact the WIB for help in developing solutions. Contact Alice J. Savino, Executive Director, 209 Elizabeth St., Utica, NY 13501. Phone: 315-793-6037. e-mail:

Oneida County Partners