ON THE JOB

$15 Million to Train N.Y. Techies<@VM>Tax Credits Could Alleviate Worker Shortage<@VM>Benefits Get More Flexible<@VM>Workplace Violence Still Top Concern

New York state will provide $15 million in high-tech training grants to 28 organizations, benefiting 4,000 workers, Gov. George Pataki announced last month.

The awards will help workers keep pace with rapidly changing technologies, and help businesses increase wages and recruit and retain workers, the governor said.

The grants are funded through the Workforce Investment Act. Recipients are businesses or business consortia that employ high-tech workers in high-demand occupations. Workers will receive training in fields such as systems engineering and administration, Web development and computer engineering.

New York is home to more than 13,000 high-tech firms.
Tax credits for high-tech training could encourage companies to train more workers, alleviating the information technology worker shortage, industry representatives said.

The Technology Education and Training Act of 2001, if made law, would allow employers a $1,500 credit against income tax for expenses incurred by high-tech training programs for employees, and a $2,000 credit for small businesses or all companies in enterprise zones or empowerment zones.

"Tax credits for business to train and retrain workers mean more high-paying, high-tech jobs for American workers. ... This bill is sound public policy," Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America in Arlington, Va., said last month.

ITAA estimates that 425,000 of 900,000 IT jobs in the United States will remain unfilled in 2001.Employers are offering more benefits that provide workers job flexibility, according to an annual survey released last month by the Society for Human Resource Management in Alexandria, Va.

Designated leave benefits, such as paid sick and vacation time, have decreased over the past five years, while paid time-off plans have increased considerably, the survey found.

Under a paid time-off plan, all leave is combined into a pool, and the employee can decide how it will be used. The 2001 survey indicated that 62 percent of respondents offer such plans, compared to 33 percent in 1997.

Flexible scheduling benefits also have grown steadily. The number of organizations offering telecommuting grew from 20 percent to 37 percent since 1997, and the number of organizations offering flex time grew from 46 percent to 58 percent. The survey of 754 human resources professionals included 160 of the top benefits offered by employers.Violence in the workplace is the top concern of security managers at America's largest corporations for the third year running, according to an annual survey of Fortune 1000 companies released last month by the Chicago security firm Pinkerton's Inc.

"This is a wake-up call to all managers to increase their awareness of the issues and establish crisis plans in the event of such incidents," said Don Walker, president of Pinkerton's.

Workplace violence results in a $36 billion loss to American companies annually, according to the Workplace Violence Research Institute in Palm Springs, Calif. Each workday, an estimated 16,400 threats are made, 723 workers are attacked and 43,800 are harassed, according to the institute.

Internet and intranet security placed second on the list for the second year running, and pre-employment screening was third.

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