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OlyCAP jumps to for-profit jobs

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by MATTHEW NASH Sequim Gazette
 
In a two-week span, Robert Erickson’s life turned upside down.

After working as a commercial fisherman for five years, he lost his job and apartment.

During this chaotic time, his girlfriend gave birth to their first child.

Erickson sought answers and found Olympic Community Action Programs’ Career Jump program.

The nonprofit agency places low-income parents into a training program with businesses for a trial period to learn new job skills.

Traditionally, OlyCAP has worked with nonprofits on the peninsula, but now it is reaching out to businesses.

Craig Johnston, OlyCAP employment training specialist, said Erickson is the first person to be placed by the program in the for-profit sector.

“We’re actively recruiting for-profit businesses and, if I feel confident in a person, then I’ll pursue a for-profit business,” Johnston said.

“Robert was a more-than-qualified candidate.”
 
Second chances
After he had been unemployed three months, OlyCAP found an opportunity for Erickson at Novus Glass in Carlsborg.

Owners Brent and Loraine Larson, longtime supporters of OlyCAP, accepted Erickson because of his strong work ethic and experience in car mechanics.

“He’s someone who is truly grateful for a job and steady work,” Brent Larson said.

Erickson was placed as a glass service technician, training on the job to repair rock chips, replace windshields and install glass.

OlyCAP, through the Washington State WorkFirst Program, paid minimum wage for up to 20 hours per week during Erickson’s training.

After he’d worked 80 hours, Novus could evaluate his performance. The company decided he was a good fit.

Once Novus hired him, OlyCAP continued paying wages for up to 256 hours.
 
Continued training
Erickson has been employed four months and now earns full pay. He has become certified in glass repair/installation.

OlyCAP provided funds for some of his tools, too.

Larson said the timing was right with Erickson.

“I think it is a great program for people that are on hard times. Most of them want to work, but it’s not always out there,” he said.

Before beginning work with Novus, Erickson received general job training and advice through OlyCAP with options for temporary jobs and collegiate courses.

“If you stick through the program, it’s worth it,” he said.

The Larsons agree.

“We got a wonderful employee through the program — a young man who wanted to turn his life around — and honestly it’s been win-win,” Loraine Larson said.

“Instead of giving me a job, they gave me a career,” Erickson said.

At Novus Glass, Erickson quickly has become a part of their tight group.

“We are a small business, so each individual who works here becomes a part of the family,” Loraine Larson said.

“If we were to look at Sequim and Port Angeles the same way, we could change this community one person at time.”
 
Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.


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