Education and Training Division
Most veterans know that they can use the G.I. Bill to pay for the costs of education. However, many are unaware that they can also receive these same tax-free benefits for training on-the-job or apprenticeship.
On-the-Job Training Program
The On-the-Job Training (OJT) Program offers veterans and other eligible persons an alternative way to use their VA (G.I.Bill) education benefits. Under OJT, veterans learn skilled occupations by performing each job process described in the training outline. This is done under the supervision of a skilled worker. While training, eligible participants draw monthly education benefits from the Veterans Affairs.
OJT programs may be provided in a wide variety of occupations. Some in trades that relate to military occupations, but many that do not. Currently approved programs range from correctional officers to mechanics.
Employers also benefit from the program. The OJT program is an excellent way to attract and retain well disciplined employees in hard-to-fill positions.
Employers direct the training of the veteran, thereby ensuring that he or she becomes familiar with work processes as defined by the employer, equipment to be used upon completion of training, and company policies. There are no direct payments to employers under the program. Payments received by the veteran are intended to serve as a salary supplement during the period of training.
How to Apply
If you think you are eligible for VA education benefits and are interested in the OJT program, the first step is to contact your employer. Your employer will know if the job objective toward which you are to be trained has been approved for OJT benefits. If the program is already approved then you and the employer must complete a VSO Form 55 (Training Request) and forward it to the Georgia Department of Veterans Service to begin the enrollment process. The Georgia Department of Veterans Service is the recognized State Approving Agency which is responsible for the evaluation and approval of all education and training programs offered to veterans in Georgia.
If there is not an approved OJT program for your job, or if you are beginning training in a new position within a company, complete the VSO Form 55 and ask your employer to contact the Education and Training Division of the Georgia Department of Veterans Service for approval information.
The basic requirements are that the employer must provide adequate space, equipment, instructional material, and qualified personnel to furnish satisfactory training on the job. In addition, the workplace must be free of safety hazards.
An OJT program may only be designed for an occupation that requires at least six months but not more the twenty-four months of training. A veteran cannot be already qualified for the job by previous training or experience. Jobs which take relatively little time to qualify for such as fast food attendant, bartender, salesman, or building custodian cannot be approved.
At the completion of training, the employers are required to pay veterans or other eligible persons no less than the fully trained starting wage. In no case can this wage be less than the minimum prescribed by the Secretary of Labor. The veterans' wages must be increased in regular periodic increments during the training period. Not later than the last full month of scheduled training, the wages will be at least 85 percent of the fully trained waged paid for the job for which the veteran or eligible person is trained.
The employer must certify that there is a reasonable certainty that a job will exist for the veteran once the training has been completed.
The rules for employers participating in the OJT program are intended to safeguard the veteran's or other eligible person's right to a legitimate training opportunity. While these rules may appear to be extraordinary at first glance, the overwhelming majority of participating employers find that following them poses little difficulty. In fact, once the initial application for approval has been granted, the administrative burden to the company is minimal.
The Education and Training Division personnel conduct periodic visits to assure that progress is being made and that records of progress and pay are maintained properly.
Apprenticeship training is similar in nature to OJT, but it includes theoretical instruction as well as practical training. The person learning a trade, an "apprentice," is taught by a skilled worker, a "journeyman." The veteran or other eligible person receives VA education benefits while working full-time and earning wages.
Apprentice programs differ from OJT in that they are normally two to five years in length. Apprenticeship programs also require a minimum of 144 hours of related classroom instruction per year. Related classroom instruction is usually provided by the employer, local technical college or with the Federal Bureau of Apprenticeship Training. An employer seeking approval of a non-registered program need only contact the Education and Training Division of the Georgia Department of Veterans Service. Registered apprenticeship must be approved by both the Federal Bureau of Apprenticeship Training and the Education and Training Division to allow veterans to draw educational benefits. Some examples of approved apprenticeships are carpenter, electrician, brick mason and plumber.
Veterans enrolled in OJT or Apprenticeship programs must show that they are making satisfactory progress in their training. To demonstrate progress, veterans are required to maintain a written record of their work and training hours for each month. Veterans in training are required to be present on the job for the same number of hours that others in the company normally work in a week. Veterans are allowed to work overtime or irregular hours. However, they must work at least 30 hours a week or 120 hours during each month to be entitled to the full benefit payment for that month.
Who to Contact
Direct questions concerning the OJT and apprenticeship programs to: Georgia Department of Veterans Service, Coordinator, Education and Training Division, Floyd Veterans Memorial building, Suite E-970, Atlanta GA 30334 (404) 656-2322.
If you have questions concerning eligibility for education benefits, contact the Veterans Affairs Office nearest you. The Georgia Regional Office is: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Regional Office, P.O. Box 54346, Atlanta GA 30308-0346 (800) 827-1000.
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Revised: Friday, 14 November 2008 11:42 AM