It’s once again time for the Four County Labour Market Planning Board to take its annual snapshot of the issues employers in Bruce, Grey, Huron, and Perth counties are facing with respect to workforce recruitment and retention.
At the beginning of each year, the planning board puts out its EmployerOne survey to collect information on a range of workforce-related issues and challenges facing local businesses.
“The main thing that we want to know from employers is what are the skills they are looking for, are they able to find those skills within their labour pool, and then the other thing we want to know about is those hiring trends — are they able to find the people… and are they able to keep them in those jobs,” said Gemma Mendez-Smith, executive director of the planning board.
By taking the pulse of the local labour pool each year and then publishing a report based on the data collected and the trends observed, schools, government agencies, community partners, and the public can gain a better understanding of the characteristics of the local labour market.
Based on data from previous years, programs like Perth4Youth — focused on youth attraction and retention — and the Connect2Skills manufacturing-training program have been implemented over the past two years to address shortages of skilled workers in the county.
“The Perth4Youth and the #prosperinperthcounty campaign were a direct result of the EmployerOne survey results from two years ago,” said Meredith Forget, Perth County’s manager of economic development and tourism. “Newcomer attraction/integration, improved transportation and housing are all areas we’re working on to help support our business community.”
Through data collected in this year’s survey, the planning board and each of its member counties can determine whether pilot programs like these have been helping and how they can be improved.
The data can also be used by the upper-tier municipalities and their partners to develop new strategies for tackling the issues facing employers, and it can be used to support government funding applications for those programs and strategies that have proven to be successful.
“This information we look forward to gathering because we’re able to use it to develop strategies to help employers,” Mendez-Smith said.
“So, with the evidence that they have provided by responding to the survey, we can share that with training. We can go to the colleges or the local trainers to say, ‘Here’s what employers are missing. Here’s the skills that exists within our region. How quickly and effectively can we put programming in place to address these issues?'”
The survey, available at www.surveymonkey.com/r/FCLMPB2019 until Jan. 31, takes roughly 10 minutes to complete. According to Mendez-Smith, the accuracy and application of the resultant data is entirely dependent on having a response similar in size or larger than previous years.
“I know it’s easy to say, ‘I did this last year,’ but it’s so important for us,” she said. “… We’ve been able to go to councils and share that information with our economic development partners so they know exactly, as they’re talking to employers… certainly the responses to those issues can be based on evidence.”
“The more respondents the survey receives, the more accurate and complete the data becomes,” Forget added.