The single biggest hurdle for many businesses is rebuilding their workforce, especially in service sectors like tourism, retail, food service, and hospitality.
Rebuilding our local economy will take years and a series of calculated investments from the private sector. According to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Canadian Survey on Business Conditions Report, Q3 2022, 39% of respondents identified recruiting skilled employees as an obstacle to business over the next three months, 37% listed a shortage of labour force, and 31% identified retaining skilled employees.
Access to thorough, accurate and no-cost labour information and expertise will help businesses adapt, influencing our economic growth.
Our local Workforce Planning Boards are an indispensable partner in rebuilding our workforce. Locally, the Workforce Development Board has been providing workforce resources for 26 years. They bring direct experience in identifying and addressing labour market and workforce development trends, opportunities and priorities within their catchment areas. Local businesses regularly use resources like the Local Jobs Hub and Labour Market Information Help Desk. The annual Local Labour Market Planning Report provides crucial summaries of key data and qualitative feedback gathered through consultation and collaboration with industry, businesses, training and employment service providers.
Right now, businesses are looking for data and expert advice on providing competitive compensation, investing in career ladders to retain staff, and labour market information regarding planned growth — all of which is available for free from the Workforce Development Board.
Our local Workforce Development Board is one of a number of Workforce Planning Boards across Ontario — all of which are facing the same challenges. In order to provide local labour market information, service coordination and public education, Workforce Planning Boards need more sustainable funding. Operating on one-year contracts on budgets that have decreased over the years has made it difficult to recruit and retain talent to provide these services.
Together with Chambers of Commerce and other business-focused organizations, we issued a letter of support to Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development requesting:
• An increase in funding for each Workforce Planning Board by a minimum of $120,000 per fiscal year
• An increase in the length of funding agreements with Workforce Planning Boards to three years
Additionally, the Peterborough and the Kawarthas Chamber of Commerce will be submitting a policy resolution on this subject to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to potentially become part of their advocacy efforts.
Workforce challenges are one of the biggest barriers to economic growth in Ontario. It is essential that businesses, non-profits and charities have access to as many workforce resources and tools as possible. After years of funding cuts and precarious one-year funding agreements, now is the time to re-invest in our Workforce Planning Boards with increased funding and three-year contracts.