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Hawaii’s Employment and Training Fund (ETF) Explained

Resilient businesses wield a powerful tool to help them adapt to new technology and ways of thinking: continuing education. Some say adapt or die; we say learn and thrive!

In an effort to help keep Hawaii businesses competitive, the State of Hawaii Workforce Development Division offers the Employment and Training Fund (ETF) to partially subsidize the cost of continuing education. The fund covers 50% of tuition on approved courses—up to $250 per course—with no limit on the number of classes per employee or the total number of employees enrolled through the program.

The lengthy list of approved training courses includes subjects like food safety, early childhood education, hospitality training, and leadership philosophy. Computer-related classes are of course also popular, from specialized software (AutoCAD, Microsoft Office, Quickbooks, Photoshop, etc.) to information security, networking and more.

How to qualify for the Employment and Training Fund

To qualify for ETF funds, training must be offered by approved providers on topics related to the employee’s current position. The fund cannot be used for training usually provided by the employer or required by law. For example, CPR and security guard training are typically not eligible.

Usually the employer seeks out the most appropriate course(s) and confirms availability with the vendor. Next, the Employer Referral and Course Registration Agreement form (PDF) is used to register the employee and apply for funding. The Workforce Development Division will pay 50% (up to $250 per class) to the vendor, who invoices the employer for the remainder of the tuition, applicable taxes and any other ancillary costs not covered by the fund.

While the fund cannot be used for private training sessions, employers could work with vendors to request a particular course offering. There are many classes that are ETF-approved but don’t run very frequently. With a little coordination, business could set up some very specific training sessions for their employees.

About the Employment and Training Fund

Established in 1991, the ETF is usually a reliable source of funds. Exceptions have included periods of recession (when demand is high) and years when State funding was not allocated.

  • Access to ETF funds is first come, first served.
  • Private employers and employees must be legally eligible to do business in the state of Hawaii.
  • The fund is not available to government entities.
  • Employees must be referred by their employer to be eligible.
  • The Workforce Development Division recommends enrolling at least two weeks before the start of the training and requires notification of any cancellations or substitutions at least one week prior.

Have a question for one of our HR experts? To learn more about this issue or to schedule a free consultation on the advantages of human resources outsourcing, contact simplicityHR.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should first consult their attorney, accountant or adviser before acting upon any information in this article.

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