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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Rapidly Shrinking Labour Force

Regional | by Kevin Bernard  

Trends show a rapidly shrinking labour force, along with a constricted labour market.

It's a problem that has dogged employers and the Four County Labour Market Planning Board for several years and it continues.

Executive Director Gemma Mendez-Smith addressed Bruce County Council recently on the Manufacturing and Construction Sector Partnership in Bruce, Grey, Huron and Perth counties.

She says the trends show a rapidly shrinking labour force, along with a constricted labour market.

Mendez-Smith says "Since 2004, the labour force (in the four counties) declined by 18,700 people."

She says that's an 11% drop that needs to be corrected.

Mendez-Smith says some of the highest layoff rates, affect youth particularly in the lower skill gap sector.

She says with the Life Extension Project at Bruce Power just around the corner, "Our main goal is to make sure that local residents benefit from all the economic growth that's happening."

She tells councillors as positive as the Bruce Power factor is, there are many other businesses in the region that are also looking for workers and are having a difficult time finding them.

Mendez-Smith says "We don't have enough people to fill all the jobs that we have in this region."

Some other regions might view more-jobs-than-people-to-fill-them as a good problem to have but to Mendez-Smith, it tells her there is a labour retention problem in the region.

She says they need to counter the problem by making sure the residents have the skills they need to live and work in the area.

What she calls, "The attraction strategy" has to be around those skills as well, which could include more affordable housing and marketing of the area to new immigrants who may not otherwise, know of the opportunities.

Mendez-Smith says if they do attract the people, then they need to keep them here for the long term.

She says they have to get by the mind-set that people have to leave the region in order to be successful.

She suggests the selling point should be people can stay here or come here and be just as successful here as anywhere in Ontario.

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