Monday, February 28, 2011

City helps make hiring easier for Denver businesses

(Press release)
Wage subsidies, youth interns available through Denver Workforce Center programs

DENVER, CO ­— Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011 — When it comes to staff recruitment, making the right hiring decision can be challenging at best. And in today’s economy, effective hiring is all the more difficult given the financial strains faced by many businesses.

To make staff recruitment easier, the Denver Office of Economic Development (OED) is offering two programs that connect Denver businesses with trained, pre-screened workers. OED is seeking businesses to participate in its Wage Subsidy and Bridges to Work Youth Internship programs.

Wage Subsidy Program
The Wage Subsidy program offers subsidies to qualified businesses to hire new employees. Funded by the federal Workforce Investment Act, the program offers a minimum of 50 percent of an employee’s wages to be subsidized for a period of up to six months. Subsidies for individual positions cannot exceed $8,000.

“The Denver Workforce Centers are dedicated to serving as an extension of the HR staffing function for businesses across several industries,” said Stephanie Klein, chair of the Denver Workforce Investment Board, which provides program oversight and policy guidance for Denver’s workforce investment programs. “Wage subsidies are one of the many ways we’re making staff hiring, retention and training easier for Denver businesses, while growing our city’s workforce.”

Last year OED established wage subsidy contracts for 303 job placements with businesses in several industries, including energy, construction/skilled trades, health care, retail and hospitality.

To be considered for the program, a business must be located in Colorado for at least 120 days, pay into workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance, and have not laid off employees within the past 90 days. Subsidies are only available for full-time positions that provide at least 32 hours of work per week.

To apply for the program, businesses must submit an interest questionnaire online at

Bridges to Work
OED is inviting businesses to participate as sponsorship mentors of the Bridges to Work summer youth internship program. The program provides skills training and career exploration for youth 16 to 21 years of age, while providing employers with staffing options for business success.

A $3,000 pledge will connect participating businesses with a trained and pre-screened youth intern. All wages, employer taxes/fees and workers’ compensation coverage for up to 160 hours of employment are paid and managed by OED. Prior to starting an internship, all youth complete three weeks of intensive soft skill training, financial literacy education and job readiness preparation. Employers make the final selection of interns.

“Bridges to Work provides a wonderful way for our business community to recruit talented youth and simultaneously contribute to building a strong workforce pipeline for Denver’s future,” said Hassan Salem, president of U.S. Bank of Colorado, who led the Bridges to Work fundraising and sponsorship efforts last year. “We had a very positive experience with the program last year, and placed three of our youth participants with permanent positions following their internships.”

Bridges to Work debuted last summer with 40 youth interns, 100 percent of whom continued with their high school or college education following the program. The sponsored program was designed to complement OED’s Youth Employment Program.

For more information or to become a part of the Bridges to Work program, please contact OED’s division of Workforce Development, Youth Services at 720-865-5549.

The Denver Office of Economic Development is dedicated to advancing economic prosperity for the City of Denver, its businesses, neighborhoods and residents. Working with a wide variety of community partners, OED operates to create a local environment that stimulates balanced growth through job creation, business assistance, housing options, neighborhood redevelopment and the development of a skilled workforce.


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