The past two years have been a time of uncertainty and struggle against change for people in the workforce, as the COVID-19 pandemic and its related restrictions take hold globally.

Conservative estimates show hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost across the country due to COVID-19, with up to 396,500 lost in British Columbia alone.

Those who found themselves unemployed may have changed career paths or turned to Employment Insurance or PKU to help them maintain their creditworthiness, but many others took the opportunity to do so. take the plunge and start their own business.

For new business owners, WorkBC offers specific programs designed to help people make the transition from unemployed to self-employed.

“WorkBC has a program for entrepreneurs who want to start a business but have not yet started a business or registered a business,” said Deborah Petrovitch, program operations manager for Merritt, Ashcroft and Lillooet. .

“Our program helps entrepreneurs create a business plan and then receive support while they launch it, if their business plan is approved.

WorkBC, in partnership with Community Futures Thompson Country of Kamloops, manages this program which offers consulting and business planning workshops lasting seven to ten weeks.

Over four weeks, potential entrepreneurs will learn how to run a business and create a plan to support their success by covering topics such as:

  • Company bases
  • Set goals for success
  • Branding and marketing to your unique customer
  • Customer service excellence
  • Corporate finance
  • Commercial operations

Guest speakers will also make presentations covering other important areas such as corporate banking and accounting, corporate insurance, business legal issues, and the use of social media for marketing.

At the end of this four-week training, participants will have two to three weeks to finalize their business plan. Ongoing mentoring can be provided upon request and in some cases a living allowance can be extended until the start-up phase for WorkBC participants.

“If our Merritt clients cannot get financing from their bank, we refer them to Community Futures Nicola Valley to look at financing options,” said Petrovich.

“There are certain eligibility conditions; clients must or have been receiving EI benefits for some time. If they are accepted into the program and on EI, we can arrange approval with Service Canada so that they can continue to receive their EI. If they are not currently receiving EI benefits and are assessed as having financial need, clients can receive $ 1,200 per month once their business plan is approved.

For people with disabilities, there is also a personalized independent work program, facilitated in-house by a professional advisor and a professional coach.

Personalized employment may be the most appropriate approach for clients to achieve self-employment results in the following circumstances:

  • Due to disability considerations, a client’s participation in their business cannot exceed 20 hours or more;
  • The level of complexity of the business does not require a comprehensive business plan, required business loans normally do not exceed $ 5,000, and formal entrepreneurial training is not required to implement the business;
  • Entrepreneurship training is not normally required to set up the business, but may be permitted in exceptional circumstances;
  • The client has unique needs requiring more individualized support to enable participation in the services to achieve a self-employment outcome than that available through self-employment services.

For those who already have an established small business, WorkBC offers a wage subsidy program to help employers attract workers during the province’s current labor shortage.

Through the wage subsidy, eligible employers will have the opportunity to:

  • Cover part of the salaries of employees;
  • Provide supports to people with disabilities to reduce work-related barriers for an employee;
  • Rehire or recall laid-off employees;
  • Hire new employees.

Those interested in the wage subsidy program are encouraged to contact the Community and Business Engagement Coordinator, Paula Murphy at [email protected]

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