The Columbia Basin Trust’s School Works program was initiated again this year to encourage businesses and organizations in the Basin to take advantage of an opportunity that offers financial support for employing students on a part or full-time basis. Several valley businesses opened their doors to eager young hopefuls and have gleaned the benefits.
“It’s been a great program for the Summit — we typically employ one full-time employee plus myself, along with a couple other part-time sales associates. However, my ideal would be to have two sales associates on the sales floor at all times to ensure the quality of customer service,”said Jocelyn Brunner, co-owner of Summit Footwear in Invermere.
The School Works program and others like it allow businesses to procure more staff at a lower cost, which is an asset in an uncertain economy, according to Ms. Brunner.
Confirmed applicants received a maximum wage subsidy of eight dollars an hour per student, which includes high school and post-secondary attendees. Facilitated by College of the Rockies, the much-needed program is open to small businesses, non-profit organizations, First Nation and public sector enterprises in the Basin on a first come, first served basis.
“Challenges have included finding qualified students — there seems to be a shortage of professional, outgoing, hardworking full-time students in our valley, but over the past couple of years of posting the position and interviewing, we were lucky to find three amazing young ladies,” said Ms. Brunner. “They proved to be great team members and have been an asset to the sales team.”
She acknowledged the enhanced quality of her store through the innovative program.
“The program enables us to provide an exceptional customer experience to our locals and valley visitors by ensuring there is enough staff to help each customer — if the valley wants to have guests return and refer this beautiful place to other potential visitors, customer service is critical,” she said.
School Works has a track record for being a success with both employers and students, allowing local businesses and organizations financial support, while upping employment opportunities for students interested in establishing a platform for extra income, while securing invaluable work experience throughout the school year, according to Lisa Kilpatrick, Columbia Basin Trust Senior Manager, Sector Initiatives in a press release statement.
“Programs like these make it financially feasible for local businesses to provide the service that our customers crave and deserve,” said Ms. Brunner.
To learn more about School Works, visit cbt.org/Funding and search under “Programs”.