Employ participant Jareth Leo greets customers at the Fruit Union Plaza Subway restaurant. (Submitted Photo)

Employ program wakes up North Okanagan youth to opportunities

Community Futures of North Okanagan now accepting intakes for 16-30 year olds

The alarm jolts Jareth Leo from a deep sleep. Rubbing his eyes, he checks the clock reading out the 6 a.m. wake-up call. With little time to get dressed, have breakfast, shower, and brush his teeth, Leo is determined to be on time for his daily commute.

The 21-year-old high school graduate woke up early willingly so he could catch a ride from his home in Cherryville to Vernon to be a part of the Employ Youth Employment Program offered by Community Futures North Okanagan.

Often one of the first participants to arrive, Leo spent those 10 weeks attaining valuable employment and life skills, with all the tools to help him succeed.

Banking on a Future

A self-declared Jack of all Trades, Leo has always had a willingness to learn. After graduating from Charles Bloom Secondary three years ago, he found himself working in factories, which he says did not offer much in the way of job security.

However, the most significant barrier for Leo finding meaningful work was a lack of confidence.

“Before I would have looked at a job board and thought ‘I can’t do that,’” he says.

Admittedly shy, Leo says he spent the first few weeks of Employ sitting quietly in the corner, not wanting to associate with others. But he soon found his voice through partaking in workshops, talking to different business mentors, and working with Employ Job coach Angela Bushey.

“The interview skills were imperative. They also taught me how to make a document that was enticing and honest,” Leo says.

“Before I was thinking about bookkeeping jobs, then I thought they couldn’t teach you to be good at customer service, and what I really would like to do is work in banking,” he says. “People think it’s hard to get into, but what you really need is to have a good attitude and be a good team member.”

With support from Bushey, Leo sent his newly created resumé to employers where he could improve on his customer service skills. One of those businesses was the Subway restaurant franchise in Vernon’s Fruit Union Plaza.

“The interview went so well, they hired me on the spot,” Leo says, adding that Employ also helped him find a place to live in Vernon so he wouldn’t have to make the long commute to get to work.

“Now I have the energy because I don’t have a long commute. I can now walk to work and hope to work up the chain to a management position.”

Leo also just received his first review from his employer. Besides being attentive to detail, he was told he has a responsible attitude and can work with a team.

“They also appreciated me being on time,” he says.

Walking Through the Door

Leo not only credits the Employ program for helping him get to where he is today, but he also credits himself for being brave enough to tackle all the challenges he faced.

“Community Futures and Employ helped me find employment with me in mind and showed me jobs that I felt secure with and that I’m interested in. They taught me things that I didn’t know I was good at,” Leo says, adding, “If you’re willing to put in the effort and are provided with a way to get here, then it’s incredibly worth it. It helps with your attitude, confidence, and skills you need to improve on. It helps with talking to people that have connections and with employers. It’s a great resource… All it took was walking through the door.”

Are you or someone you know 16 to 30 looking for opportunities to improve employability/life skills while receiving a wage? The next intake of Employ starts March 16. Contact Angie Fisher, Employ coordinator, at 250-545-2215 ext. 215 or visit www.futuresbc.com/employ/ to learn more.

READ MORE: Job fair returns to Enderby for round two

READ MORE: Enterprize challenge gives North Okanagan businesses a boost


@VernonNews
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