How a Wage Subsidy Client Became a Read Head

Shiny book covers stand out amongst the fruit and vegetables as Kate Mahaits greets passing customers at the Vernon Farmers’ Market. Her role today is as a bookseller and reading enthusiast for Read Local Okanagan, a pop-up bookstall that promotes valley writers and their works.

Promoting and selling local books is just one of the many tasks Mahaits has taken on since she was hired through the Wage Subsidy Program delivered by WorkBC Vernon.

Thanks to the program, Mahaits now works as an editorial assistant for Read Head Copywriting, owned by Vernon writer Natalie Appleton, herself a former client of the WorkBC Self-Employment Program. Opened in 2012, Read Head Copywriting helps businesses share their stories with customers through search engine optimized (SEO) website content, blog articles, press releases, social media support, and more.

As a Read Head team member, Mahaits helps with marketing strategies, social media and supporting clients’ needs as well as helping to develop new and exciting projects such as Read Local Okanagan.

“When Natalie described what she had in mind with the Read Local project, I was all over it. It’s right up my alley, as I love reading and I am excited to get people interested in the tangible aspects of writing,” says Mahaits.

“Before I started working here, I thought about how I wanted to incorporate my new skills with my old skills. I couldn’t be more grateful to Natalie and the support I have received to be able to do that and reach my goals.”

Starting Over

A former pharmacy assistant as well as a professional photographer, Mahaits says she needed a change, as neither of those industries offered her sustainable full-time work.

On Employment Insurance benefits at the time, Mahaits approached the Work BC Centre in Vernon and with the support of her Employment Counsellor found out she qualified for funding to go back to school. She ended up enrolling in Okanagan College’s business diploma program, with a focus on marketing. It was around then that her marriage broke down and she became a single mom.

“I needed to support my son and myself with something that would offer us a future,” she explains. “Luckily, my hours at school were flexible, as my courses took place during the day. I was able to get my school work done as well as support my son.”

Waging a New Job

Upon completion of her course, Mahaits entered the WorkBC Wage Subsidy Program, which provides temporary wage subsidies to employers looking to hire and, in turn, provides work experience and skills enhancement for eligible program candidates.

“Any employer will confirm that the initial training of a new employee can be quite time-intensive and costly. The Wage Subsidy service offsets training costs and allows an employer to invest the time into the orientation and training and thereby working towards cultivating a long-term employee,” says Selena Stearns, Wage Subsidy Advisor. “As well, this service can provide additional support and coaching to both employer and employee throughout the placement and the following months. For Natalie and Kate, I saw this to be an excellent opportunity both professionally and personally for both parties and as such, wholeheartedly supported this placement.”

Mahaits had just started the Wage Subsidy job support training when a friend told her about Read Head Copywriting,

“He said I would learn a lot working with Natalie, so I looked up her website and wrote her a letter of interest. She asked me to come in and meet her, and that’s when I mentioned that I was in the Wage Subsidy Program.”

It was a win-win for both women, and the timing was fortuitous. Appleton had been considering a summer student hiring program for support in training an editorial assistant. Through Wage Subsidy Services, however, funding would support that training and Mahaits would be able to be a part of the team past just the summer months.

“This program gave us the opportunity to take some risks in broadening our offerings. It’s much easier to grow your company and your team when you have this kind of support at the outset,” says Appleton. “We’re very fortunate that we were able to access this program and have Kate join our team.”

Are you a business owner or are currently on Employment Insurance and want to find out if you are eligible for the WorkBC Wage Subsidy Program? Contact Selena Stearns, Wage Subsidy Advisor with WorkBC Vernon at 250-545-2215 ext. 208.

Wage Subsidy is a program of WorkBC Employment Services and the Government of Canada.