Rural areas across Canada face a unique challenge when recruiting and retaining professionals.
According to Statistics Canada, over the next decade, British Columbia will be faced with one of its largest economic challenges: ensuring enough workers, with the right skills to maximize potential economic growth.
With this forecast in mind, the Lower Columbia Development Team, along with the Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation (LCIC) has issued a request for proposals to create a unified regional recruitment package to allow employers, educators, and healthcare providers to attract and retain key employees.
“I don’t think it’s any secret that there are talks of skill shortages today and projected for the future,” said Sandy Santori, executive director of the LCIC.
“It is imperative that our local companies remain competitive and productivity is enhanced.”
Santori said that over the last year, LCIC undertook a retention and expansion project that involved surveys of over 150 businesses in Greater Trail, and what the workforce renewal committee was hearing, was a need for a centralized recruitment package.
“During the interview or recruitment process, the discussion is usually around wages and benefits,” he said. “Lifestyle and resources in our entire region should be a part of that process, because there is more to it when attracting someone from the outside.”
Santori said that LCIC is seeking either a local or external source to develop a robust integrated workforce recruitment tool so that employers can sell the “entire package.”
He said that the information package will capture the attractions, benefits and services available to potential employees and new arrivals, all in one resource.
“Quite often, the most difficult part of the recruitment may be the potential employee’s spouse,” said Santori.
“A unified package will make the transition easier even after they move here.”
Although, exactly what form the recruitment package will take, has not been decided.
Santori said it will be compact, web-based or possibly a USB flash drive that the person can pick and chose areas of interest.
“We need to enhance the recruitment process and bring the lifestyle of the Lower Columbia region into the forefront.”
If current trends continue, Canada’s labour force is going to change drastically over the next 20 years.
The workforce is going to get older; in 2001, when the first batch of baby boomers turned 55, only one in 10 Canadian workers was at least that age.
By 2031, Statistics Canada expects that ratio to jump to almost one in four.
Twenty years ago, fewer than one in five Canadian workers were born in a different country.
By 2031, that ration is expected to rise to one in three.
With these statistics in mind, LCIC is taking the bull by the horns.
“We are excited about the recruitment tool, and from that the other benefits it may bring in terms of attracting new residents to our area,” explained Santori.
“People always think it about jobs and new business, when in fact economic development is about bringing in new residents.”
“They spend money, need services and easy access to resources, because that is all part and parcel to the whole puzzle.”