Pending approval from the US Dept. of Labor, Delaware employers could get the state to pay 90% of a new hires paycheck during a training period.

Lt. Gov. Matt Denn  made the pitch to the Workforce Investment Board at its meeting last month. Under the program, the state will pay 90% of a new employee's wages with a couple of caveats. The employees must have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks, and the business must have 50 or fewer workers.

"This is a great opportunity for us to give our small businesses another tool to hire new workers and give them valuable training," said Denn. "It's also a way for us to incentivize hiring of some of our neighbors who have been out of work for a long time." 

The state would continue paying the new workers as long as the employee is receiving specialized training from their employer. The employer would be required to commit to keeping the employee in the workplace after the training concludes and the state ends picking up the tab for the majority of the worker's pay.

The program is already in place in Delaware on a much smaller scale. Currently, the state will pay 50 percent of a new worker's wages during the training period. But, because that requires 50 percent of the wage to be paid by the employer, it's not widely used. 

The program would not cost the state any extra money. "We can do it using job training money that we already receive from the federal government," Denn said.

The state would need permission from the federal Department of Labor to increase the amount of a new worker's wages paid for by the state.