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How To Overcome Workforce Challenges Now and Post COVID-19

It’s been a daunting time to be an employer and an employee. COVID-19 has created workforce challenges above and beyond previous barriers to business operations and labour.

Released results of an Eastern Workforce Innovation Board (EWIB) community consultation show the impact of COVID-19 on the eastern Ontario region labour market. The consultation took place June, July and August 2020. It included thirty-five community partners and fifty-one employers from the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, Frontenac County and Loyalist Township.

The findings and solutions are relevant and useful to all of eastern Ontario.

Workforce Challenges That Exists Now and Will After the Pandemic

Some challenges being faced by employers and workers are ongoing and some are a direct response to the pandemic. But there’s one workforce challenge that has long limited economic growth: labour shortages. 

Getting People To Work: 5 Solutions To Labour Shortages

  1. Upskilling and reskilling. Programs like Skills Advance Ontario’s Elevate Plus provide rapid skills training for manufacturing jobs. Plus, on the job experience and employer support get skilled workers into the labour pool sooner filling positions faster.
  2. Opening opportunities for overlooked groups. Newcomers to Canada, people with disabilities, and older workers are underused workers with a wealth of talent, experience and knowledge employers can work with to fill the vacant positions with skilled labour. There are workforce development programs in place in eastern Ontario to reskill and upskill this labour pool so employers can fill positions with people already looking for work locally. 
  3. Attracting younger workers. Millennials and Gen Z workers are a workforce powerhouse looking for a work life balance and opportunities to use the skills they have or earn qualifications for jobs they’re passionate about. Eastern Ontario is a great location for them as housing is more affordable and many with this age group are keen for more outdoor space than urban centres offer.
  4. Adapting to changing labour expectations. Employees are looking for a life that includes a good job and a lifestyle they want. They look for work in environments where their skills are appreciated and is inclusive and diverse in its staffing and ideologies. Employers have recognized changing workplace expectations and are offering work environments to entice loyal employees.
  5. Modernizing training activities. Using different methods to train new staff beyond even online training, but also looking at ways people learn and taking advantage of existing skills and enhancing them through target training opportunities. Then all potential employees can be considered because they can get training that meets their needs both in content and delivery.

5 Sectors That Are Overcoming Workforce Challenges

Delivery services, e-commerce, and information technology are thriving right now because they provide a means to continue life while still maintaining social distance through the pandemic. 

Here’s 5 other sectors doing well in the eastern Ontario region and able to provide high-quality jobs:

  1. Health care 
  2. Public administration
  3. Construction; 
  4. Manufacturing;
  5. Agriculture

Employers can take advantage of the free recruitment opportunities to fill positions and workers to get jobs in these sectors in eastern Ontario. And job seekers can benefit from the 21 upskilling programs offered in the region to get trained for careers that are in demand.

The Eastern Ontario Workforce Development (EOWD) project has identified workforce challenges in eastern Ontario. They developed a Strategic Plan to provide a clear path for strengthening the workforce and economy in the region.

5 Ways We’re Strengthening Workforce Development in Eastern Ontario 

We’re taking action to champion workforce development through the Ontario East Economic Development Commission’s Talent Identification Support Project (TISP-OE):

  1. New Talent Attraction. Attracting new talent such as new Canadians to eastern Ontario to provide the skills and training to meet the jobs available in the local market.  Promoting the quality of life to be found in the region and the opportunities for stable, long term, employment here makes it doubly attractive for settlement.

  2. Career Pathway Building. Actively working to create an easier way for potential workers to get the skills they need for local employment opportunities. Here’s some ways to do it:
    - Implementing e-learning platforms to bring youth, business and education sectors together to promote planning for local careers in key sectors across eastern Ontario. 
    - Teaching soft skills like work ethic to youth, job seekers and incumbent workers so that future local employees excel;
    - Promoting skilled trades and Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math knowledge so students feel encouraged to stay connected to in-demand skills.

  3. Talent Retention & Mobile Workforce Preparation:  Using digital communications to promote employment and work life balance opportunities, and to share information between employers and job seekers to support upskilling. These tools also allow you to proactively connect employers with talent, and help employers find new ways to attract and retain staff:

    - Showcase areas where it is easy to work from home.
    - Highlight the area as a great place to live and work, and why.
    - Help employers understand the wants and needs of workers such as: competitive pay rates, work culture and work environment

  4. Rapid New Skill Acquisition: Helping employers retrain the staff they have and yet reduce training time when needed. Here’s how:

    - Upskilling to move workers between jobs.
    - Provide programs with shorter training and supporting faster recruitment of - these newly skilled workers.
    - Guide and train underemployed and career-shifting workers to quickly fill employment gaps.

  5. Tools & Applications: Finding and creating tools that helps employers operate in the region or job seekers choose the region. These tools will:
         - Make workforce data readily available
         - Identify sector specific skill needs
         - Identify technology needs

Want to know more about what’s happening in eastern Ontario region to help employers thrive? Download the EOWD Strategic Plan Report.

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