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Campbell River chamber and school district team up for labour solution

10-week work program will match students with local employers
Mary Ruth Snyder drew upon her experience working for her father’s men’s wear store when coming up with the idea for the labour shortage solution. Image supplied

The Campbell River & District Chamber of Commerce has teamed up with School District 72 to create a program which aims to benefit local businesses short on staff, and local students short on work experience.

Interested Grade 11 and Grade 12 students from all three high schools will be paired up with businesses for a 10 week stint during which they can get an idea of what it’s like to be a part of the work force.

The chamber’s executive director, Mary Ruth Snyder, said the initiative is a personal passion project of hers.

Snyder’s earliest memory of work was as a nine-year-old helping out at her father’s men’s wear store in southern Ontario during a sidewalk sale.

“I remember the excitement of being involved, and working,” she said. While attending school, she was able to garner more work opportunities, which she recalled as invaluable.

“Being in the work force, even as a student, exposes you to a world, which until you’re in it, is a bit of a mystery. (My) early experiences have stayed with me and impacted me in such a positive way, I really felt that it was important to make sure (the chamber is) the conduit to make that happen in Campbell River.”

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Over the course of the first two weeks, the students will go through an unpaid orientation process during which they will have the opportunity to try out a variety of different jobs within a few different industries in town.

The following eight weeks will see them enter into a paid placement, which matches the employer’s need and the individual student’s interest.

Depending on the opportunity, FoodSafe, Serving It Right, and first aid, training/certificates may be offered to the students upon the discretion of the employer.

More than 20 companies have expressed interest in the program so far.

“I’m really excited for two reasons,” Snyder said. “It’s going to give students an opportunity to explore their interests out in the real world, and it might help them make their decisions over the next couple of years moving forward.

“And it’s going to help the employers to alleviate some of the stress that they have right now around not having enough workers.”

SD72’s Jeff Lontayao is overseeing the program for the school district. He said he’s confident it will be popular with students.

“They want clarity,” he said. “That want help answering the big question – what am I going to do after high school?”

Lontayao added the program could start popping up across the island.

“I’ve already got calls from other districts to see what this program’s all about, and to see how they can replicate it,” he said.

The program is scheduled to take place during the district’s third quarter, which starts the week of February 7, and wraps up at the end of April. Depending on participation, it may also be offered during the fourth quarter of the school year which goes until the end of June.

Ideally some students will also move on to full time work during the summer of 2022, and beyond.

Businesses interested in finding out more can contact Mary Ruth Snyder at 250-287-4636, or via email at

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