TEMPLE — An $8 million pilot program will help train veterans in information technology, advanced manufacturing and aerospace skills.

The announcement from Workforce Commissioner Hope Andrade was made Friday at the Texas Business Conference, which was held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Temple.

The conference was a daylong series of seminars and discussions designed to help area employers address basic legal issues regarding hiring, post-employment and work-separation policies.

Part of the commission’s Skills for Veterans initiative, the new program will provide up to $2,000 for training and is open to post-9/11 combat veterans.

Eligible veterans will need to submit a copy of their DD 214 to the commission, showing they received an honorable discharge.

The new veterans training program is part of a greater emphasis the commission is placing on training for both employees and employers.

That training was focused on small businesses.

“We are working closely with community colleges and employers to help them take advantage of the grants we have available,” Andrade said. “We have $1 million set aside just for small businesses.” The conference itself fell under the rubric of small-business oriented training.

Participants received the latest edition of “Especially for Texas Employers,” a handbook that provides business owners with practical, up-to-date information and techniques to more effectively manage their employees.

Seminar topics included Texas employment law and the basics of hiring; federal and Texas wage and hour laws; the unemployment claim and appeals process; independent contractors; and employee policy handbooks.

The conference takes place several times a year throughout the state, Andrade said.

“This is our 11th Texas Business Conference this year and our goal is 15 for next year,” she said.

“As a small-business owner for over 30 years, I never realized the resources I had available from the Workforce Commission.”

The development of skills for small-business owners and veterans was something that Andrade returned to, both in her remarks and in a separate interview.

She encouraged conference attendees to “take advantage of the training funds and attorneys” that the commission has available.

The conference drew attendees from throughout the Central Texas region and put them in touch with resources from state agencies, such as the Workforce Commission and the Department of Insurance.

“We want to do our part to ensure all Texas employers have access to this valuable information,” Andrade said.

Previous conferences have been held in Amarillo, McAllen, El Paso, the Houston area and San Angelo.

Friday was the first time the conference came to the Temple area.

“We try to go to different cities and different size cities,” said Lisa Givens, director of communications for the Workforce Commission.

“We typically first choose cities based on our not having been there and then we return to make sure any new businesses get the help they need.”

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