$4,000/Employee Program Aims to Boost Hiring with Labor Force Participation Rates Still Lower than Pre-Pandemic
The Baker-Polito Administration launched a new hiring and training employer grant program, “HireNow,” which will help employers quickly hire and train new workers and get more people back to work. The new program provides eligible employers with a $4,000 per employee grant, which can be used to cover training costs or as a signing bonus for new employees. By providing employers with these flexible funds to facilitate quick hiring, the Administration is focusing on addressing continued hiring challenges faced by employers and increasing labor force participation. Employers can learn more about the program and apply at mass.gov/HireNow.
The program is open to all Massachusetts employers, including both for-profit and non-profit entities (excluding federal, state, and municipal governments). Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta announced the launch of the program today at LabCentral, a Cambridge non-profit that provides support and working space for start-ups in the biotech and life sciences sectors. LabCentral plans to hire lab operations and other technical and administrative staff this year and will use funds from HireNow to support training costs.
“Our Administration is focused on supporting Massachusetts’ economic growth and getting more people back to work, and the HireNow program is one more tool at our disposal to meet employers’ workforce needs and grow our labor force,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The flexible funds from this program will be distributed to employers quickly to help them with training costs, tuition support and other needs. We are grateful to our partners in the Legislature for allocating the ARPA funds necessary to make this program happen.”
“We know employers are ready to grow and expand by hiring new workers, and we’re excited to deploy flexible dollars as part of the HireNow program to jump-start those efforts,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Massachusetts’s economic recovery from the pandemic is off and running, but we know there are still persistent workforce challenges that we must address. To boost our local economies, it is critical that we help both for-profit and non-profit employers meet their workforce needs and get more people back to work. We appreciate the partnership of the employer community as we developed this program and look forward to putting these funds to work alongside our existing, proven job-training programs.”
HireNow aims to address hiring challenges faced by employers that have been brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data, there are over 85,000 workers not participating in the labor market compared to pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile, employers’ need for workers has continued to increase, with unfilled job postings up 20% compared to pre-pandemic levels and approximately 200,000 open jobs available across the Commonwealth.
The Administration is focused on addressing these challenges through a variety of efforts, including by expanding access and awareness to its existing, apprenticeships, incumbent worker training programs, the Career Technical Initiative and more. Local MassHire Workforce Boards are also expanding resources to match employers and workers with training programs, and regions are hiring new staff members to serve as regional “Market Makers” to connect companies to graduates of new education and training programs starting up in their areas funded by the American Rescue Plan Act. These staff members will be regional points of contact to help match employers’ needs with both job-seekers and the skill-building programs needed to successfully fill open jobs. In addition, MassHire Centers are adding staff to work directly with job seekers who want to enroll in new training programs to gain more skills.
The HireNow program will build on these efforts by providing resources directly to employers that make it possible to immediately hire new employees and provide them with necessary training to fill open roles. The program will be supported by $50 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds.
“We are excited to add HireNow to our growing number of grant programs that aim to close job and equity gaps across the Commonwealth,” said Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta. “We hope these funds will encourage employers to expand their hiring strategy to include those with potential for learning and growing on the job, over a direct-skills match, as this will widen the candidate pool and help both jobseekers and businesses.”
“Getting people back to work is a key element of our strategy for economic recovery and the ‘HireNow’ program allows us double down on these efforts,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “I look forward to this program’s success not just in enhancing access to employment opportunities, but accelerating it.”
“HireNow will be an excellent complement to the Career Technical Initiative we launched two years ago which expands access to high-quality vocational programs for high school students and adults by creating three shifts, one during the regular school day for vocational students, one in the afternoons for students enrolled in their local high school, and one in the evening for adult learners looking to change careers or upgrade their skills,” said Education Secretary James Peyser. “Employers will be able to recruit students from CTI programs, and use the HireNow grants to offer deeper training for their employees.”
- Employer Eligibility: Any Massachusetts employer who is in good standing with Department of Unemployment Assistance and Department of Revenue obligations and is not de-barred by the state is eligible (excluding federal, state, and municipal governments). Applications must be submitted by the employer, not an education or training partner.
- Application Process: Employers must pre-register online at Mass.Gov/HireNow by providing employer information. Following the employee’s hire and 60-day retention period, employers will submit a final application for funding. The Commonwealth will also approve the planned use of the funds (training costs, signing bonus, etc.) when approving the application.
- Eligible Hires: Hires must be made after March 23, 2022, be retained for a minimum of 60 days, and be placed in jobs that are at least 30 hours per week. New hires need to be Massachusetts residents employed in Massachusetts. There are also limits on compensation:
- Minimum eligible compensation: $14.25 / hr (minimum wage)
- Maximum eligible compensation: $42.50 / hr (~$85K annualized)
- Funding: up to $4,000 for each eligible employee hired, with a limit of $400,000 per employer. Funds will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis.