Incumbent Worker Training Program


                Incumbent Worker Training (IWT) Grant 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

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. Although funding is provided as reimbursment, award notifications must be in place prior to training start date.

When is the right time to apply?

Applicants with trainings scheduled to start in July 2020- June 30,2021 can apply at
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
What business is eligible?
  • 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)
What business is not eligible?
  • Federal, state, and county government
  • Tribal governments, tribal enterprise, Section 17
What employees are eligible?
  • Predominately year-round employees (average 20 hours/week or more)
  • Completed at least six (6) months of employment
  • Montana resident working in Montana
What employees are not eligible?
  • 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
What training is eligible?
  • 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
What training is not eligible?
  • 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
What format for training is eligible?
  • 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
What format for training is not eligible?
  • 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.
What training expenses are allowed?
  • Test fees, if applicable and as applied to the first test; retakes, if required, are not eligible
  • Application and registration fees
  • Supplies as required by the eligible training provider; i.e. books
  • Cost of training, if deemed eligible
What training expenses are not allowed?
  • 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
  • Reimbursment 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
Qualifying Costs

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.

Match Requirements

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.

Grant Funding Disbursement

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

How To Apply

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

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.

Requirements If You Choose to Apply

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.

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

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.

Partner Agencies

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

Contact Information

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