A young graphic designer, Jesse Fletcher felt apprehensive about the Career Focus job-entry program, if only because there seemed to be no hurdles to jump.
"It's one of those things that's a little bit confusing because there's no down side," Fletcher said Thursday after TQM Consulting, which administers the program, and MP Cathy McLeod touted its benefits.
A $1.2-million allotment to the Kamloops firm through the federal Youth Employment Strategy has been helping graduates under age 30 gain footing in the work force since April.
"We see it, certainly, as a win-win for employers, new employees and the Kamloops region," said Don Anderson, owner/manager. "We just registered our 81st youth for the program and next week we'll sign our 30th employer."
The program provides a 50-per-cent wage subsidy to employers who hire qualified candidates, who must have a certificate, diploma or degree in hand.
Anderson said there are still openings for youths or employers who feel the program might fit their needs.
McLeod said the program focuses on an often overlooked element of the economy, one essential to its future.
"We've gone through a very, very difficult time over the last few years," McLeod said, adding that there are positive signs of recovery. Employment figures support that contention.
"But one of the things not reported is what's happening with youth."
Unemployment among youth — persons age 30 or under — is often in double-digit territory, she noted. Her three kids have encountered similar circumstances.
"I thought that the world was going to be their oyster. I thought it was going to be easy, easy, easy," with the post-war generation retiring. "It's been a challenge I didn't think they were going to have."
Anderson said the program gives employers greater flexibility by freeing up labour costs that can be plowed into their operations.
Jayson Columbus, director of finance for Northam Beverages in Kamloops, said he found the program too good to be true.
"As an employer, there can be a risk to hiring an employee who has low to no work experience," he said. "We're looking forward to see if there are opportunities in the future."
Fletcher, a graduate of the TRU digital art and design program, found his web skills lacking after working in the printing industry his first few years. He lost that job when the company downsized.
The program enabled him to re-hone those skills without the sort of pressure he might have encountered in his new job with Adroit Technologies. And the process was straightforward, he noted.
His new employer called him right off the bat and asked him to start work that same day.
"Everything happened really fast."