IWT Overview

The Incumbent Worker Training (IWT) program is a grant funding resource, helping to off-set a portion of skills-based training costs for incumbent (existing) workers employed by Montana's private sector. Businesses must demonstrate that training will increase the worker's skill-level, result in a promotion or wage gain, or expand their business market/increase business revenue with the intent of preserving existing jobs for Montana residents. Private sector includes for-profit and non-profit businesses operating in Montana year-round. The incumbent worker must be on the job for six months of consecutive employment.

Grant funding is allocated to the Montana Department of Labor & Industry (MDLI) on a State Fiscal Year 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 reimbursement, award notifications must be in place prior to training start date.

When is the Right Time to Apply

FY24 IWT funding opened on July 1, 2023.  Due to an overwhelming response, our quarterly funding is exhausted.  The application process will open again on 10/1/2023.  Applications should be submitted at least 14 days prior to the training start date.  Applications will need to reflect a start date of mid-October until mid-June of 2024.  We encourage you to register with Submittable.  To sign up for access, please visit www.submittable.com

                                            Submittable Funding Platform

Applications must be approved before training begins.    IWT Checklist 

The IWT funding opportunity: the what, who, when, why, and how   IWT Overview

 How the Submittable Funding Platform Works when Applying for IWT Support


Please Check Eligibility Before Applying

    • For-profit or non-profit business operating in Montana for at least one (1) year (minimum of 365 days)
    • Small business with no more than fifty (50) employees
      • Effective 10/1/2023 - all businesses in excess of fifty (50) employees may apply
    • Businesses with more than fifty (50) employees statewide (eligible to apply 10/1/2023)
    • Registered with the Montana Secretary of State's Office (some exceptions apply)
    • Can meet employer matching funds requirement (see matching funds requirement below)
    • Public entities such as city, county, state and federal government
    • Tribal governments, tribal enterprise, Section 17
    • Business with more than 50 employees statewide
      • Effective 10/1/2023 - all businesses in excess of fifty (50) employees may apply
    • Business operating outside of the state of Montana
    • Predominately year-round employees (average 20 hours/week or more; working a minimum of an 11-month period)
    • Completed at least six (6) months of employment
    • Montana resident working in Montana
    • Public entities such as city, county, state and federal government
    • Tribal government or tribal enterprise employees
    • Temporary or seasonal employees
    • New hire: employees with less than six (6) months employment
    • Employees who work for a Montana company but reside out-of-state
    • Consultants/contractors hired by the business (not an employee)
    • Volunteer workers, board members (i.e. any non-paid individual)
    • Employees who work less than 20 hours average/per week predominately year round (11 months)
    • 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)
    • All staff training
    • Continuing education required to maintain professional certification or licensure
    • Training customarily required or provided by the business or industry
    • Conferences 
    • Training that occurred prior to the grant request being awarded
    • Subscription/Membership related trainings
    • Retreats
    • Trainings that exceed a year's time from start to finish
    • Training for which the incumbent worker was hired to do
    • Classroom
    • One-on-one instruction
    • Off-site training 
    • 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)
    • Subscriptions or Memberships
    • Mileage to and from the training site
    • Car rental (if required)
    • Shuttle/taxi if not using car
    • Lodging – required to use look-up, Per Diem Rates | GSA, for allowable lodging rates
    In-state travel is covered at 80%, with a 20% match requirement.
    • Mileage to and from the training site
    • Commercial transportation (airfare)
    • Baggage check
    • Long- or short-term parking
    • Car rental (if required)
    • Shuttle/taxi if not using a car
    • Lodging – required to use look-up, Per Diem Rates | GSA, for allowable lodging rates
    Out-of-state travel is covered at 50%, with a 50% match requirement.
    • The department reserves the right to defer the review of multiple grant applications submitted by any single employer, to provide funding to employers on an equitable basis.
      • IWT is not intended to be an annual professional development resource.
      • Employers who have received prior or current FY awards may not be funded in order to accommodate new applicants.
      • IWT is not intended to fill trainer classrooms - multiple apps for the same training may be denied.
      • Reviewers may limit multiple applications within one city/county to ensure other cities/counties have access.

Grant Amounts

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

  • 20-34 hours a week year-round up to $1000
  • 35+ hours a week year-round up to $2000
    • Effective 10/1/2023 - FTE (35+ hours a week/year round) are eligibile for up to $2,500
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Grant Writer: 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 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: 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.

    Fiscal agent:  In order to alleviate a financial hardship, small businesses and nonprofits may elect to have a Fiscal Agent help with the financial aspects of the application. Given the nature of the reimbursement process of this funding opportunity, payment for training would be paid by the Fiscal Agent. All other documents within the application would be the Applicant Organization, but the W9 and elective EFT form would be the Fiscal Agent. Reimbursements would be sent to the Fiscal Agent, once the Applicant Organization remitted proof of payment and proof of completion from the trainer.

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
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