Free training helps small business meet new regulations

two burger patties topped with cheese cooking on a flattop gril

Sweet's Shop has been serving 100 percent, old fashioned hamburgers to Snyder residents since 1954.

In 2015, Legislation relating to training courses for certain food handlers was passed in an effort to eliminate food borne illnesses. The Texas Food Establishment Rules became effective in Oct. 2015 and gave businesses one year to provide training to all food service employees.

For small businesses without a large training budget, providing the training to even a minute staff can become a challenge. However, one Snyder restaurant Sweet’s Shop, went to Western Texas College to discuss their training needs and learned about the Texas Workforce Commission’s Skills for Small Business program.

What is the Skills for Small Business program?

This program provides businesses with fewer than 100 employees, state-funded training to meet their business needs with an emphasis on training new workers or upgrading skills of incumbent workers. Donna Cutler, director of Workforce Development and Continuing Education at Western Texas College, encourages these businesses to apply.

“TWC has established a very user friendly system and this program is a great way for small businesses to provide better training for their small workforce,” said Cutler. When a qualifying small business identifies a training need, courses may be selected from classes offered at their local community or technical college.

Western Texas College worked with Sweet’s Shop to coordinate the food handling training needed for eight workers at the restaurant and provided certificates of completion. Sweet’s Shop’s Cruz Aviles found the application process to be easy and has advice for other businesses.

“Take advantage of this program,” said Aviles. “You will learn from it and definitely get something out of it.”

What does Skills for Small Business give companies?

It provides tuition and fees for employees who participate in an existing course applicable to a business need. Up to $1,800 may be approved for newly hired workers and existing employees may be eligible for up to $900. Newly hired workers include those who were hired within 12 months prior to receipt of the application. Through their partnership with Western Texas College, Sweet’s Shop was able to meet the new legislation ahead of the effective date for compliance. In addition to the food handler’s certification, Sweet’s Shop owners attended courses in marketing, Photoshop and QuickBooks. Donna Cutler has observed how this program can make a huge impact. “Especially on the small businesses that would really be struggling to find money for training,” said Cutler.

“This program has allowed them to get the training they need at no cost.” Businesses are encouraged to apply directly to TWC for training approval.

How do I get started?

Employers seeking more information about the this program, including applications and information about how to apply may visit the TWC website at www.texasworkforce.org/ssb.