BURLINGTON Governor Jim Douglas has announced the award of more than $400,000 in training funds to help Vermont workers improve their skill and make their employers more competitive. At a ceremony celebrating Vermont Business Magazines 5 x 5 x5 Growth Awards yesterday, Douglas announced the Vermont Training Program contract with the Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center for $409,150. This money will help train 1,000 employees in lean techniques for both manufacturing and healthcare, Douglas said. This kind of investment in Vermonts workforce will help them access high-skill, high-wage jobs; it will help employers be more competitive in the global marketplace; and it will help contain health care costs. The nonprofit Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center (VMEC), headquartered on the campus of Vermont Technical College in Randolph Center, will provide the training through public workshops, forums, and other onsite instruction. Last year, with the help of a similar grant and other funds, VMEC trained 3,181 Vermonters through a combination of public workshops and onsite training. That included 42 public workshops 37 in manufacturing and 5 in lean health care and 11 forums, 10 on manufacturing and the first lean health care forum. Some 99 different manufacturers and 18 health care or other organizations took advantage of the training offered by VMEC, which was one of the sponsors of the 5 x 5 x 5 Growth Awards. The Vermont Training Program, part of the Vermont Department of Economic Development, provides funding to companies for customized on-the-job, classroom, skills upgrade, or other specialized training for employees. Last year the Vermont Training Program provided training to nearly 5,000 employees at more than 80 firms in Vermont. Working with partners like the Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center, this program helps our workforce and our companies grow and prosper, Douglas said.