ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The state of Maryland is investing $3.2 million in a program to offer financial incentives to businesses that hire apprentices and provide them with on-the-job training, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday.

Through the Employer Incentive Plan (EIP), businesses with at least 50 employees can get reimbursed for half of the wages paid to registered apprentices, according to the governor’s office. The state will foot the bill for 75 percent of apprentices’ wages for eligible businesses with fewer than 50 employees on the payroll.

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The goal is to boost participation in the state’s registered apprenticeship program, which provides a two-fold benefit. On one hand, apprentices gain a steady paycheck and work experience. On the other, employers expand their talent pipeline.

“By investing in this new Employer Incentive Plan, we are supporting the growth and future of Maryland’s highly successful Registered Apprenticeship programs, sponsors, employers, and apprentices,” Gov. Hogan said in part.

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The EIP would reimburse larger businesses (50 or more employees) for apprentices’ wages up to $3,120 for as many as 30 hours a week, while smaller businesses (fewer than 50 employees) could get paid back up to $4,680 for the same number of hours.

According to figures provided by the governor’s office, Maryland currently has more than 11,000 registered apprentices in the state’s workforce, representing the highest participation seen since the apprenticeship program began.

“Maryland continues to be a national leader in workforce development, job training, and apprenticeships, and it is critical that we continue to invest in our skilled workforce,” the governor said. “Apprenticeships have proven to be a tremendously successful workforce development strategy, and I encourage businesses from all industries to utilize this program.”

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The EIP isn’t limited to private businesses. Public businesses and nonprofit groups can also apply to participate in the program, as long as they meet the state’s eligibility criteria.

CBS Baltimore Staff