Bigelow Tea in Boise has received a state grant worth nearly $59,000 to retrain 31 employees.
The employees’ average wage will increase to $18.51 after they complete training, according to the Idaho Department of Labor. The department declined to disclose the current average.
Bigelow Tea packages tea into bags for commercial and retail customers, shipping them to stores and locations across North America and elsewhere. The Boise plant at 315 N. Benjamin Lane is one of the Fairfield, Connecticut, company’s three plants.
The state’s Workforce Development Training Fund grants are used to reimburse costs of training new workers or retraining current ones. To qualify, companies must pay at least $12 an hour, offer employer-assisted health insurance and produce products or services sold outside the region. The training must provide employees with skills to improve their wages and employment outlook.
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Bigelow qualified in part because its employees’ jobs have been changing because of automation. The retrained positions will include five lead mechanics, 11 mechanics and 15 packer-operators.
The fund is financed by 3 percent of the unemployment insurance taxes paid by businesses each year. The department said it granted $6.2 million in retraining grants in 2014, $2.8 million in 2015 and $3.2 million in 2016.