TIME AND AGAIN, the Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade has been a winner of competitions between local business organizations across the country to find job openings and match them with people who need work. Though its best known drive is probably the annual "Summer Jobs for Youth" campaign in April and May, the board is concentrating in an imaginative way on cracking an even harder case: Finding permanent, entry-level jobs and training opportunities for unemployed and unskilled young adults -- and making the arrangements attractive to employers.

One big attraction for employers in this instance is money -- $1.5 million in federal funds to reimburse them up to 50 percent of each employee's wages during on-the-job training for periods of 4 to 40 weeks. The program, called "Partners In Employment," is sponsored by the board and the National Alliance of Business, in cooperation with the local governments and chambers of commerce of this region. Not only is there money to help pay wages, the sponsors note, but there is also a tax credit that can be applied to wage costs incurred in 1979 and 1980 by firms for certain categories of disadvantaged employees; the credit is equal to 50 percent of first-year wages up to $6,000 and 25 percent of second-year wages up to the same amount. Employers point to another popular aspect of the program: The paperwork is minimal.

During this week, the board of trade has been running a special drive to sign up employers and today, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., a Career Opportunity Fair is being held at the Twin Bridges Marriott to bring together those job-seekers and area employers who have signed up so far. As of yesterday, employers had offered a total of 700 jobs, which would commit about $725,000 of that $1.5 million in federal money. Next week, the program will continue. Job-seekers should apply through their local employment services; employers may call 828-JOBS for details. Naturally, we hope many more marriages of jobs and people will result from this fine initiative on the part of business and government.