The WorkBC Aspire Program is helping young people find and keep employment in the East Kootenay.   Photo submitted

The WorkBC Aspire Program is helping young people find and keep employment in the East Kootenay. Photo submitted

Kootenay Employment Services gives hope to young people

The Kootenay Employment Services 9KES) Aspire Program, headquartered in Cranbrook, is celebrating helping young people enter the workplace. The Aspire Program “equips young adults with the skills, knowledge, networks and on-the-job experience they need to move into meaningful, good-paying employment.”

The program serves the East Kootenay Regional District with training locations in Fernie, Invermere, Cranbrook, and Kimberley.

Gregg Berg, LEAD Program Coordinator with KES in Cranbrook said the program, which is continuous, has been a success over the summer and fall.

“The program started in May and we had a couple intakes, one in July and one in September,” he said. “That’s throughout the East Kootenays. We’ve had almost 50 people go through the program. They all attended four weeks of workshops. We work with them to find work afterwards, and so the first group has had a pretty good success rate. Out of 14, we have had 11 people get work or education and continue that for 12 weeks.”

Berg said that program is for unemployed youth aged 18 to 24, who might be struggling with finding or retaining employment.

“The ones that come through our door are varied,” he said. “Some with no work experience and others with some work experience. Generally they need assistance connecting with employers. Sometimes that can mean just being able to communicate their skills. Other times they are not sure what type of work they are interested in.”

Berg said the young people in the program often need time and guidance in terms of exploring their options.

“One of the workshops is getting them some work experience,” he explained. “In Cranbrook we had the whole group volunteer at the Salvation Army for a day, and show up on time, and work as a team, and communicate and problem solve.”

Another component of the program is bringing in a number of employers in each community who are able to educate the participants as far as what they want in an employee, said Berg.

“We want to connect these people to employers, so there is not a wall between them,” he explained. “You’re actually a solution to their [employers] problem. They want to find somebody who has the skills, so we’ve had really good support with our employers.”

Berg said that quite a few employers have hired from the Aspire Program, and in turn allowed program leaders to access worksites to coach participants.

“We also talk about a training plan,” he said. “Our program acts as an in between.”

A wage subsidy assists employers with hiring young people said Berg.

“The program can pay a portion of the wages,” he said. “The reason for that is to offset some of the costs of training a new employee. Depending on the job offer, and needs of the individual, we can offer some money to compensate for training.”

Berg said that most of the employers are small businesses who appreciate the help.

“When we go to the larger employers like grocery chains, they already have a good training program in place,” he explained. “And again we had good response.”

According to Berg, there is actually a labour shortage in some parts of the East Kootenay.

“So the employers have been really receptive considering some employees have less work experience,” he said. “That’s what’s really cool about some of these younger workers because they are open to that.”

Berg said the Aspire Program will possibly continue for a total of two years as determined by a contract with the Province of B.C.

“They choose the locations,” he said. “So it’s not all across B.C. Generally they are looking at rural areas where the youth unemployment rate is often double of more.”

For more information about the Aspire Program in the Fernie, please contact (250) 423-4204.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

It costs as little as $7 to charge an EV at home. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Electric Vehicles a rare sight (in the Kootenays), but change on the way

Electric pickups will increase the appeal of zero-emission vehicles in years to come according to Blair Qualey of the New Car Dealers Association

Linda Krawczyk and her dad Doug Finney enjoyed a ride around beautiful Fernie on Friday thanks to Melanie Wrigglesworth and the local chapter of Cycling Without Age. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Cycling Without Age goes for its first spin

Doug Finney (86) got to enjoy a ride around Fernie

The Cranbrook Community Forest is good to go for mountain biking. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Snow’s done, time to hit the trails

South Country trails are good to go

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
69 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 9,840 since the pandemic began

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Most Read