By: Dr. Tom Phillips, Trent University and Rhonda Keenan, Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development
Having a skilled workforce is the number one concern of industry. As Peterborough & the Kawarthas
Economic Development (PKED) meets with the region’s business leaders a common theme has emerged: a skills gap. Businesses have job openings but there doesn’t appear to be anyone available with the right skills to fill the open positions. At the same time, highly-skilled university graduates are starting to job search and finding that they lack the applied experience that employers are looking for.
Businesses know that access to talent and workforce is the key to their ongoing success. Innovative communities throughout North America are growing their local economy by tapping into and
collaborating with their educational institutions to develop the next generation of talent.
Whether they are growing from within the community, or relocating to the region, companies will look at the talent pipeline first and foremost before they will begin to look at other variables. Business will invest where talent lives.
Trent University is developing exciting new plans that will see future Trent students engaged in more work-integrated and experiential learning placements to improve their employability and assist students in their transition to employment.
New Canadians, youth and spouses of employed workers all have something in common. They have experienced barriers to entering the local workforce and many are considering entrepreneurship as a great alternative.
In markets such as Peterborough, over half of our businesses are owner-operated. The Kaufman Foundation cites research that indicates 80% of all new jobs will come from companies that are less than 5 years old. This same research also shows that immigrants were nearly twice as likely to start new businesses. Adding in the robust business support system with services offered by organizations including: Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development, the Innovation Cluster, Startup Peterborough, Community Futures Peterborough, the Chambers of Commerce, and others, it is clear that our community punches above its weight. There is real opportunity for both established and aspiring entrepreneurs to grow in Peterborough & the Kawarthas. Entrepreneurship can be an incredibly strong way to retain our local youth, while also providing an inclusive and supportive environment for New Canadians.
It was timely that Trent University partnered with PKED to host a Community Leaders Breakfast on June 25 to hear how entrepreneurship and experiential learning can benefit our region.
This event brought together business leaders, academia, community leaders and economic development partners to engage in facilitated discussion on the following topics:
The conversations and feedback were invaluable. Trent University is a world-class academic institution and we have world-class businesses operating in our communities that are looking for their future
workforce. Trent University will compile the input from this Community Leaders Breakfast to produce a publication and final report that will guide their new programming and identify new opportunities for collaboration between Trent and the business community.
The potential synergies are remarkable. The collaboration between academia and business will be key to developing a prosperous region into the future, with opportunities for students, businesses, and the community-at-large to succeed.