When business is busy, Aaron Lucke, owner of Wynndel Electric, needs a hand—but doesn’t have time to train a new apprentice. During his quieter season, Lucke has time—but not the income to pay the new employee’s wages.

That’s where Columbia Basin Trust came in. The Trust’s School Works program gave Lucke an $8/hour wage subsidy to hire Austin Ryter, an electrical apprentice studying at College of the Rockies.

“This subsidy allows time to train in slower parts of the year when a small business would otherwise not be able to invest in training.”

“Now when it’s starting to get really busy, he’s fully trained, understands my expectations and knows how to stay safe,” says Lucke.

Based in Wynndel, near Creston, Wynndel Electric offers electrical services to new and existing homes and businesses, with a focus on reducing energy consumption. This makes it a great place for Ryter to develop his skills. The apprentice is responsible for setting up job sites, assisting with electrical work and undertaking small tasks on his own.

Since 2012, the Trust’s School Works program has helped businesses and organizations hire full-time students on a part-time basis during the school year. In 2015 the program expanded to include first year apprentices: construction electricians, carpenters, heavy duty mechanics and automotive service technicians. Employers can hire an apprentice full-time until they have all of their hours needed to move into their second-year apprenticeship.

The Trust also offers Summer Works, which helps small businesses hire students over the summer. Administered by College of the Rockies, these programs are just one way the Trust helps the Basin maintain a diverse and resilient economy supported by strong businesses, a trained workforce and sufficient job opportunities.

This was Wynndel Electric’s first time participating in the School Works apprenticeship program, and Lucke is keen to participate again. “I was able to bring a green worker in and mentor him from a basic level of education,” he says—which has definitely been good for business.