The recruitment and retention of qualified staff is a significant problem for businesses in the rural north. (photo / facebook)

Workshop to help businesses find that perfect employee

Selling location and lifestyle one strategy for success

The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako is facilitating a workshop designed to help employers address one of their greatest challenges, namely the recruitment and retention of qualified staff for their businesses.

It’s a challenge that was highlighted within a Regional Skills Gap Analysis report in January 2014, in which the stakeholders in the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako identified a skills mis-match between supply and demand in the region’s labour market.

“It is a problem, certainly,” said Corrine Swenson, Manager of Regional Economic Development for the Bulkley Nechako Regional District.

“We did the skills gap analysis and have been working very hard to address the issues that were identified at that time, but the truth is that there are still often positions within the region that are having to be re-posted because qualified applicants are just not there.”

The 2014 report came after extensive conversations with local businesses, residents, educational institutions, employment service providers and government and the result was the call for a collective and coordinated approach to address the identified problems.

Stemming from the report, a Workforce Opportunities Table (committee) was established to work on a project to help find qualified, talented employees as well as working on initiatives to develop training and skills for new workers.

Brad McRoberts, the Manager of the Regional Economic Development Branch for the District of Bulkley-Nechako, is the co-chair of the Opportunities Table.

“Our organization focuses on capacity building and supporting economic activity, and it’s a real challenge that requires some fresh approaches . It’s been a really good group so far, but I’m confident that the best is still ahead,” said McRoberts, adding that the group has engaged independent stakeholders, private businesses, government economic institutions and First Nations.

“We want to offer a forum that’s independent of governments–a neutral territory where we can really identify what it is that business and industry needs and what we can do to help.”

One of the ideas being promoted by McRoberts’ group involves the way that jobs are marketed to the workforce.

“I looked at one job posting that the employer in question was having some problems filling and it was a fairly typical posting that described the job details and qualifications in very dry terms. I asked the employer to set it aside and think about what it was that he loved about the region,” recalled McRoberts.

“He described how he loved the natural beauty, the fishing, the hiking and all these other things to love in the community.”

McRoberts listened to the employer sing the praises of the community and, when he was done, McRoberts suggested that perhaps it would be best to put those community descriptions as the lead to the job posting.

“If you’re trying to recruit talented employees, you have to first promote the lifestyle within the community,” he said. “Talk about how affordable housing is in comparison to larger urban centres. Sell the location, and then concentrate on the job.”

The Local Talent Recruitment, Retention and Attraction Workshop will help employers explore the talent recruitment and attraction challenges of Bulkley Nechako employers and help them understand the importance of strategic approaches they need to employ to attract and retain talented employees.

They will also learn strategies to support local businesses in their search for employees and help to increase awareness of tools, resources, and information available to assist employers in their quest to find that perfect employee.

Members of the Bulkley-Nechako Workforce Opportunities Table will also be on hand to talk about how others can become involved in the initiative.

The Fort St. James workshop will take place Thursday, May 17 at the Community Centre between 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.

Contact Kelley at 250.996.8233 for further information. There is no charge for the workshop.

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