Incumbent Worker Training Program

The purpose of the Incumbent Worker Training (IWT) Program is to meet the training needs of incumbent workers in Montana's small businesses and to help local businesses preserve existing jobs for Montana residents.

The intent of the Incumbent Worker Training (IWT) program is to off-set a portion of the costs for businesses in their efforts to retain workers and improve their workers' skills and wages.

An incumbent employee is defined as an employee currently working for the business; with a date of hire that meets the minimum requirement of six months of employment.

How Grant Funding Works & Instructional Videos to Help You Apply

Grant funding is allocated to the Montana Department of Labor & Industry (MDLI) on a State Fiscal Year (July 1st - June 30th) and is available on a first-come first-served basis. Funding is allocated to MDLI at the discretion of the Montana Legislature and is not guaranteed. Refer to the Regulations Link: MCA and ARM for criteria, rulemaking, requirements, processes, evaluation/limitations, claims and appeals. Although funding is provided as reimbursment, award notifications must be in place prior to training start date.

Applicants with trainings scheduled to start in July 2020- June 30,2021 can apply at https://funding.mt.gov. Please refer to "How to Apply" at the bottom of the page. Applications should be submitted at least 20 days prior to the training start date. Applications must be approved before training begins.

IWT Checklist: Grant Funding for Worker Training

Please Check Eligibility Before Applying

  • For-profit or non-profit business operating in Montana for at least one (1) year
  • Small business with no more than fifty (50) employees
  • Registered with the Montana Secretary of State's Office (some exceptions apply)
  • Can meet employer matching funds requirement (see matching funds requirement below)
  • Federal, state, and county government
  • Tribal governments, tribal enterprise, Section 17
  • Predominately year-round employees (average 20 hours/week or more)
  • Completed at least six (6) months of employment
  • Montana resident working in Montana
  • Public, state, or federal goverment employees
  • Tribal government or tribal enterprise employees
  • Temporary or seasonal employees
  • Employees with less than six (6) months employment
  • Employees who work for a Montana company but reside out-of-state
  • Skills-based training - training in a new task or new way of performing an old task; or
  • Certification - results in an increased skill through an industry-recognized credential/licensure (not required to maintain professional certification or licensure)
  • Soft-skills Training - results in an increase in employee retention or morale to improve work culture
  • Post-secondary/Scholastic Training - college courses towards a non-degree; offered by an accredited university system, community or tribal college
  • Continuing education required to maintain professional certification or licensure
  • Training customarily required or provided by the business or industry
  • Conferences and conference-affiliated training
  • Training that occurred prior to the grant request being awarded
  • Classroom
  • One-on-one instruction
  • Off-site training (not associated with a conference)
  • Online, interactive: student has access to a trainer, demonstrates learning, and provides suitable proof of completion
  • Online, self-paced and self-guided; at-home purchased software or kits; lacks proof of completion.
  • Business owners may not apply to train their internal staff.
  • Trainings that exceed a one-year duration.
  • Application/registration fee
  • Test fee
  • Supplies - such as books
  • Materials – such as specialty items required to complete the training (not asset purchases)

*Applicant should be prepared to provide estimates

  • Per diem or meal allowance
  • All-inclusive packages for training (you will be asked to remove food/drink expenses)
  • Asset purchases
  • Employee wages during time of training
  • Reimbursement of airline miles (redemption of frequent flier miles)

Grant Amounts

Grant caps are tiered, based on the number of hours an eligible employee works:

  • 20-34 hours a week year-round $1000
  • 35+ hours a week year-round $2000

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

  • Tuition, registration, fees, and required materials.
  • Transportation required to attend training such as mileage or airfare.
  • Lodging required to attend training.

IWT requires the applicant to match grant dollars:

  • 20% of training costs;
  • 20% of in-state transportation and lodging required to attend the training; and
  • 50% of out-of-state transportation and lodging required to attend the training

Any 20% match may be met in kind using wages paid while in training and travel status, except for sole proprietors.

Wages as Match

Employers, who apply for IWT funding and indicate attendee wages as match, are required to pay the employee for the hours they participate in the training. IWT funding cannot be used to compensate the employee during training.

As per: MCA 2019, Title 53, Chapter 2, Part 12

53-2-1217. Incumbent worker training program criteria for applicants

IWT is a reimbursement program. By law, funding may not be released to grantees until the Department receives:

  • Proof of payment issued by the trainer (i.e. a receipt);
  • Receipts for other approved costs; and
  • Proof of completion issued by the trainer.

IWT Frequently Asked Questions

Most Common Applicant Questions and IWT Answers

Applications must be submitted online. Access the applications at Montana Grants and Loans funding.mt.gov .

If you are not already registered in the system, please register you and your business. Allow up to five business days for your registration to be set up. How to Register Instructions

Review How to Start an Application and How to Navigate the System before applying.

Submitted applications are evaluated on a first-come, first-served basis until funding is exhausted.

Applications should be submitted at least 20 days prior to the training start date. Applications must be approved before training begins.

Be prepared to provide specific information about the training such as itemized costs, dates, the training curriculum and description and how the training will benefit both the business and the employees. Businesses must also be able to contribute the matching funds.

Are apprentice(s) eligible for IWT funding to apply toward training?

Yes, as long as they meet the minimum qualifications of 20 hours per week and have 6-months on the job. When you complete the application, be prepared to list your DLI Registered Apprentice connection.

Key things to keep in mind:

  • The Apprentice should not complete the application. Application submissions are the responsibility of the employer or someone who has signing authority for the organization.
  • IWT does not pay employee wages while in training.
  • IWT does not pay for capital purchases or equipment.
  • Although IWT is a reimbursable grant, applications must be remitted and approved before training starts.
  • IWT cannot fund an entire apprenticeship, as funding is not guaranteed.
  • Training must start and end in less than a year’s time.
  • IWT cannot reimburse incomplete coursework, so it is in the organization’s best interest to apply for a course/class/book at a time.
  • IWT will pay for certification/testing fees once. Reimbursement is not dependent upon the employee passing the test. However, IWT will not pay for re-testing.
  • If an apprentice attends a college course, and qualifies for the tuition waiver, IWT can help with supporting funds to cover items such as books, mileage, testing fees, registration fees, and required materials.
  • IWT reimburses the organization not the individual.

A grant writer or employee within the organization may prepare the application and complete all of the forms, but the application must be submitted by the owner of the company or someone with signing authority. This means that grant writers may prepare the application, but someone with signing authority from the business must log in using their own login and click the submit button. The same is true for financial agreements and reimbursement claim forms, assuming the application is approved and funded.

Trainers or third party consultants, who are direct beneficiaries of the requested funding, are prohibited from completing the grant application on behalf of the business, as this is viewed as a conflict of interest. Trainers/consultants may offer supporting documentation and guidance, but are not permitted to remit an application on behalf of the business/organization seeking funding for their services.

Partner Agencies

The Department collaborates with several organizations who may be able to assist you in other needs.

Michelle Robinson, Program Manager
Workforce Services Division
Montana Department of Labor and Industry
1315 E Lockey | Helena, MT 59601
PO Box 1728 | Helena, MT 59624-1728
ph 406.444.3351 | fax 406.444.3037
Email: iwt@mt.gov


Tips for Preparing

Please use this checklist to gather your information before you start your application.

Mac Users – In our experience, we have found Chrome or Firefox browsers encounter less issues when accessing the online application, https://funding.mt.gov . Internet Explorer and Safari often encounter error notifications during the application process. In addition, many of the required forms we provide throughout the application, are Microsoft office formats such as word and excel. Please reach out to the IWT Program Manager if you require assistance. Please do not upload files such as: paint/picture files, numbers, and please do not upload HTML files/links. These are unacceptable and unreadable formats.

New Questions for the FY21 Application provides specific information about how the proposed training will benefit your business and your employee(s). Please note: Your responses will help generate anticipated outcomes for the required post-evaluation component of this grant, if awarded. These questions are provided in advance as an opportunity to ready responses and cut/paste them into the FY21 online application. The online application's limit is 500 characters. We do not accept emailed responses or provide pre-evaluation services.

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