Chambers of commerce address local labour shortage

By Lindsay Advocate

The proportion of workers participating in jobs locally is almost 15 per cent lower than in the rest of the province and the median age of workers is about 10 years older here than across the rest of Ontario, according to data provided by the Workforce Development Board.

The Bobcaygeon, Coboconk/Norland, Fenelon Falls, Haliburton, and Lindsay Chambers of Commerce joined forces last week to offer an online workshop for local small businesses to help address the workforce shortage.

Sean Dooley, labour market information analyst with the WBD, opened the session with facts and data including the fact that the main decline in people employed are in two key age ranges — 18-24 and 55 and over.

“People between 25 and 54 years old were more able to keep their jobs during COVID,” Dooley said. He also noted that the decline in available workers does not appear to be directly linked to the pandemic.

“The workforce is aging, people who are out of work due to the pandemic appear to be re-training for other jobs, and less young people have diplomas or degrees,” he explained.

Michael Andrews, manager of skills training was also on hand to provide information to small business owners at the session. Andrews agreed, noting that enrollment in skills training locally by young people is at a 10-year high and that many people are preferring to start a business or do contact work from home rather than the traditional workplace, or a 9-5 schedule.

“Also, many older workers are retiring or semi-retiring from the labour market earlier and doing their own thing for additional income apart from usual workplace jobs,” Andrews said.

Nicki Dedes, owner of the Olympia Restaurant in Lindsay, said her company has always paid more than minimum wage to retain quality employees and that it is so crucial to provide and sustain a respectful and supportive work culture in order to attract and keep employees.

Other local small business owners participated in the discussion, agreeing that finding employees has been a real challenge and offering tips and suggestions for finding qualified workers. In addition to pay this includes:

  • marketing the benefits of the work and the business in job postings, including offering flexible schedules;
  • giving recognition to staff; and
  • providing training or professional development opportunities, where possible.

The platform was agreed to be a very helpful tool in posting job vacancies and finding staff. 

One session participant wondered if local residents can ultimately keep expecting the same amount of service and hours as in the past given the realities of declining worker availability and a changing workforce and employment options. 

For more resources on addressing difficulties in finding employees for your workplace, contact your local chamber of commerce in Kawartha Lakes.

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