A giant STEP toward building jobs BY HOLLY LA PAT SPECIAL TO THE DAILY PRESS | 24-Jan-2010
In a time when jobs are hard to come by, San Bernardino County is making it a little easier for businesses to hire the unemployed.
Employers can train new workers who’ve been receiving government assistance — and have the salaries reimbursed by the county for six months.
The program is called S T E P, t h e S u b s i d i z e d Training and Employment Program. It reimburses employers 130 percent of the new employee’s salary for a six-month training period.
The program started in August, funded by $2.5 million from the federal stimulus package, according to Nick DeMartz, business services supervisor for the county’s Department of Work Force Development. To qualify, an applicant must be a county resident who’s receiving cash aid from the county, and they must have the right to work in the United States.
“Many of these folks, under typical circumstances, would not be receiving aid — they’ve just hit a bump in the road,” DeMartz said.
In the first five months of the program, DeMartz says they’ve placed 125 employees at 68 businesses in the county, with 28 employees hired in the High Desert.
At Apex Logistics, a trucking company in Adelanto, director of maintenance Mike Siebert said they currently have four employees through the program.
Siebert said he found them to be “very hard workers and very anxious to get back to work.”
D e M a r t z s t re s s e d that the county is working with businesses that are interested in offering long-term employment. The positions should include training — “because that’s really what it’s all about,” DeMartz said.
By the end of the sixmonth training period, DeMartz said, “We’re giving you an employee that has gained a lot of skills, and now you can’t afford to get rid of them.”
The program has a variety of clerical, service, warehouse distribution, manufacturing and retail positions, with most salaries ranging between $8 and $15 per hour.
A p p l i c a n t s a re screened by county case workers, who refer them to the jobs they’re qualified for.
Participating employers must provide a job description that includes the skills the employee will be learning, as well as work hours and rate of pay.
The business must also register as a county vendor and for direct deposit and provide proof of workers compensation insurance and their business license, if applicable.
For more information on the STEP program, call (760) 949-5682 or visit www.csb-win.org.