Incumbent Worker Training

Incumbent Worker Training (IWT) – Champaign County Regional Planning Commission

The Champaign County Regional Planning Commission’s Incumbent Worker Training (IWT) program may be just what you need to help train your existing employees, increase productivity, and boost your company’s competitiveness.

IWT provides hands-on training, payment to offset training costs, the opportunity to train employees your own way, and an investment in your business.

Benefits to Your Business

  • Addresses skills gaps in your existing workforce
  • Helps you boost productivity and/or avert layoffs

How Incumbent Worker Training Works

To be eligible for an IWT training grant, your company must need to train existing workers in order to avert potential layoffs or increase your workers’ skill level. If eligible, your company can be reimbursed for the cost of skills training.

Specific details include:

  • Workers receiving training must have an established full-time employment history of at least six months at your company
  • If a company has recently relocated and any employee lost their job, IWT services cannot be provided for 120 days following the relocation
  • An IWT grant cannot cover “soft skills” training or general worker orientation

Eligible Employers

  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Business Services (including IT, accounting, office administration, etc.)
  • Construction
  • Transportation Distribution and Logistics
  • AgTech
  • Green-jobs training will also be allowable across all industries

The employer (or group of employers) to benefit from the training must be from one of the key sectors cited above or the employer may be from any industry if the proposal is part of an incentive package designed to encourage the employer to create or retain jobs in the local area. Or the training must be “green” training.

How to Qualify

Once the employer is identified in a key sector, the next step is to determine if it meets any layoff aversion “at-risk indicators”. Key indicators include: layoff aversion, declining sales, supply chain issues, adverse industry market trends, and changes in management/philosophy/ownership.

Matching Requirement

Employers participating in the program are required to pay a non-federal share of the costs of providing the incumbent worker training. The non-federal share paid by an employer or group of employers may include the amount of the wages paid by the employer(s) to a worker while the worker is attending a training program and may include in-kind contributions. All matching contributions must be necessary for the provision of the training, fairly evaluated, and verifiable. The match requirement is as follows:

1.) 10% of the cost, for employers with not more than 50 employees;

2.) 25% of the cost, for employers with more than 50 employees, but not more than 100 employees; or

3.) 50% of the cost, for employers with more than 100 employees.


Subject to the approval of Local Workforce Development Board (LWDB) 17, all reasonable and necessary costs related to the conduct of the training are allowable. There is no reimbursement until the training program is successfully completed. Additionally, as limited by state policy, the costs of workers’ wages paid while in training are allowable only as employer match contributions.

The following are typical costs eligible for reimbursement for the WIOA grant:

  • Tuition and school fees
  • Books
  • Training materials and supplies
  • Pre- and post-testing
  • Vocational counseling
  • Vendor/contractor trainer costs
  • Travel expenses of trainers
  • Travel expenses of trainees
  • Training facility costs (training off-site)
  • Fees for technical or professional certifications
  • Refresher courses for occupational certifications

Quick Links

IWT Proposal/Application


Have questions? Are you ready to start your IWT application? Contact Carly McCrory-McKay at or 217-649-2586.


What is an Incumbent Worker?

Workers, either individually or as a group, must meet the following definition to be considered incumbent workers.

An incumbent worker is:

  1. a) An individual who has a full-time employment relationship with either a participating employer in a key sector industry, or an employer being provided incumbent worker training as part of an economic development incentive package; and
  2. b) Receiving upgrade training:
  • To increase his or her skills in an occupation in which the individual is already an incumbent; or
  • To prepare the worker for entry into a new occupation within the targeted workforce.

A group of employers, as cited above, may be locally defined and must be industry focused. For example, a group of employers may be associated due to supply relationships such as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and the firms in the OEM’s supply chain. Or a group of employers may be associated through an industry related organization.

Who provides training?

Training is often provided by organizations such as Parkland College or IMEC. However, Champaign County Economic Development Corporation and/or Champaign County Regional Planning Commission can help you find appropriate training.

Parkland College training examples: customized training, traditional classes.

IMEC training examples: strategy, customer engagement, operations, technology.

What should I keep in mind as I’m considering this program?

The Local Workforce Development Board determines an employer’s eligibility based on the following factors which help to evaluate whether training would increase the completeness of the employees and/or employer:

  • Characteristics of the individuals in the program (barriers)
  • Does training improve the labor market competitiveness for employees and/or employer
  • # of employees in training
  • Wage and benefit levels of employees (pre and post training)
  • Existence of other training and advancements provided by employer
  • Credentials and skill gains as a result of training
  • Layoffs averted as a result of training
  • If you are seeking funding, be specific about any issues that require financial resources for resolution

A wide range of training topics and delivery arrangements may be proposed. Training that is closely linked to specific jobs, as well as job advancement, is encouraged. Proposed training that is only loosely related, or unrelated, to specific jobs, while not completely prohibited, is discouraged. Examples of training that is not directly job-linked include stand-alone adult basic education (ABE), stand-alone English as a Second Language (ESL), team building training, motivational training, and basic computer literacy skills. Please note that ABE and ESL training that is fully integrated with specific job linked skill training is allowable.

What reporting will be required?

Organizations receiving incumbent worker training grants must comply with all state planning and reporting requirements as specified in state policy. Requirements include the submission of an initial project plan. Required reports include information about employers and workers participating in the program as well as quarterly narrative reports on project implementation.

Examples of Past IWT Projects

Industry Type of Training
Manufacturing ISO13485 & MD-SAP
Manufacturing Welding
Manufacturing AS9100D
Construction BPI Certification (Building Performance Institute)
Manufacturing ISO 9001
Manufacturing ISO 9001
Manufacturing ISO 9001
Manufacturing CNC Machine Operating
Manufacturing Workplace Organization 5S Training
Manufacturing Industrial Maintenance