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Grant helps employers increase summer staffing

Nanaimo employers looking to increase staffing for the summer might be able to access some federal dollars to help with the expense.

The federal government’s Canada Summer Jobs program provides funding to non-profit organizations, public sector employers and small businesses with 50 or fewer employees to create summer job opportunities for full-time students aged 15-30 years old who plan to return to their studies in the next school year.

The program aims to provide work experiences for students while helping to address local priorities and supporting organizations, including those that provide important community services. Organizations have until the end of the month to apply.

Grants cover up to minimum wage for non-profit employers and up to 50 per cent of the minimum wage for small businesses and public sector employers.

Dozens of businesses and non-profit groups in the Nanaimo-Alberni and Nanaimo-Cowichan ridings accessed the funding last year.

The Nanaimo Museum was one of them.

General manager Debbie Trueman said the grant enables the museum to hire enough students to keep it open seven days a week instead of six, and on statutory holidays, and to open the Bastion to the public.

“We’ve depended on it for years to be able to hire summer students and have extended hours,” she said.

“The program is huge to many of us, especially museums and galleries.

“A lot of the students we hire are studying something that relates – tourism studies or history.”

Steve Arnett, Nanaimo Youth Services Association executive director, said his organization often applies for funding to hire a student to cover off holidays at the administration level – summer is the busy vacation time – and receives a grant about every second year.

The program also provides additional opportunities for students that might not otherwise be there and aims to match up student credentials with employer needs, although with the economic downturn, it might be more difficult for students to find work in their field, he added.

“I see it as a valuable program in the sense that it’s a one-stop focus for college and university students,” said Arnett.

He said in the general youth job market, there aren’t as many jobs out there as there are youth looking right now and NYSA’s employment centre is linking up about half of the people who come in with work.

Applications for the Canada Summer Jobs program will be accepted until Feb. 28.

For more information or to access the online or downloadable application, please go to www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/epb/yi/yep/programs/scpp.shtml.

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