Wage subsidy program inviting applications

Businesses and organizations around the valley can once again hire students through the Columbia Basin Trust’s (CBT) School Works program.

Businesses and organizations around the valley can once again hire students through the Columbia Basin Trust’s (CBT) School Works program.

The program provides a wage subsidy of $8 per hour to encourage small businesses, non-profit groups and First Nations organizations to provide part-time employment for full-time high school and post-secondary students.

“During the school year, there are few other wage subsidies that allow employers to hire a student, so we identified that as a need to encourage employers to hire students outside of the summer months,” said Lisa Kilpatrick, CBT’s senior manager for the delivery of benefits. “The program has been increasing in popularity over the last four years and we have had more demand each year.”

According to Kilpatrick, many young people move to other provinces and regions to look for work because of a perceived lack of employment opportunities in the valley.

“This program is a lot about retaining our youth and showing them that there are a lot of valuable job opportunities here,” Kilpatrick said.

Several local businesses have used the program in the past to hire employees they would have otherwise been unable to afford. The Invermere Public Library has hired three students through the program. Library Manager Nicole Pawlak said she is hoping to hire a fourth this year.

“The students provides us with a lot of programming support,” Pawlak said. “They have prepared crafts for our weekly story times, and they help us with day-to-day support in shelving books and maintaining the library. They do the stuff that we do not always have time to get to.”

Pawlak said the program’s benefits are two-fold. In addition to the library receiving much-needed support through an extra employee, the employed students get to develop their working skills for later

in life.

“I think it is great work experience for them,” Pawlak said. “We try to give them the chance to do a little bit of everything around here, so it is a great for them when they move to careers and more permanent

positions.”

This year, CBT is offering an identical subsidy program for first-level apprenticeship positions related to construction, electrician, carpentry, heavy duty mechanic and automotive service technician

programs.

“There is an indication that first-level apprentices have a hard time finding local placements and are having to leave the area,” Kilpatrick said. “Once they leave the area, they stay away.”

If the apprenticeship program works successfully, Kilpatrick said it would be renewed for future years like the School Works program.

Application forms are now available at cbt.org/schoolworks2015 and will be accepted on first come, first served basis.

Call 1-800-505-8998 for more information.

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