By Alison Rice. As vice president of organizational development for John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods, Laura McMurrain oversees the delivery of more than 18,000 hours of training annually to the Atlanta builder's roughly 1,000 employees. It's a big job, with an equally big budget: $1.2 million in 2003.
But those costs aren't as high as they could be. Since 1998, the company has saved roughly $400,000 in state taxes, investing in education.
Not every type of training is eligible for the retraining tax credit; the program only applies to training that must be provided to a worker unable to do his or her job without it, such as coursework in new technologies. "In our IT department, people need Microsoft certifications," explains McMurrain. "[The classes required] can cost $7,000. But we know we'll get half back [through the tax credit], so it makes those decisions easier."
Offering the right curriculum only goes so far. McMurrain must provide proof of training offered and costs involved, which she manages through a Microsoft Access database. "You have to have a really good system for tracking this," she advises.