The Government of B.C. is funding a project to look at the skills gap in the labour force and give recommendations about how to improve things going forward.
“We need to understand why we have people unemployed, but yet we have companies who cannot find people to fill jobs,” said Trudy Parsons, Director of Workforce Development.
The Regional Skills Gap Analysis is organized by the Bulkley-Nechako Regional District and guided by a Project Management Committee made of local representatives from business, government, non-for-profit organizations, economic development and education, said Parsons.
Parsons and several Regional District staff had a public meeting in Houston last week Monday to discuss the project and talk with local people about regional assets and challenges involving the labour force.
Parsons says they are looking at data about the supply and demand of the labour force, as well as travelling throughout the region talking and meeting with groups and individuals to learn what is happening on the ground.
They are working with people in the Regional District and partnering with Chambers of Commerce to try to bring the business community together, she said.
Parsons says a big part of the project involves engaging First Nations, who make up 40% of the population in this region and could give a huge employment base.
“We need to do a better job of engaging First Nations communities and making sure that we’re tapping into that available labour force,” Parsons said.
Parsons said they will also look at the fly in, fly out system, asking why employees are choosing to do that instead of relocating to the area of work.
She adds that they want to look at strategies to help shift that pattern over the long term.
The project will culminate in a community information session Oct. 25 in Fort St. James where they will present everything they’ve learned, highlight themes that have emerged, and give proposed actions.
Parsons says they will want feedback on the proposed actions from anyone who comes to that meeting and they hope there will be individuals to partner or champion the proposed actions.
“This is not the Regional District strategy as an entity. This has to be a regional district strategy,” said Parsons, adding that the Regional District entity doesn’t have the capacity to implement all the proposed actions.
There will be recommendations for education, industry, business and local government, she said.
Anyone interested in giving input to the project is asked to complete an online survey: See www.rdbn.bc.ca/regionalskillsgap and find links to Employer and Resident surveys under “Provide your input.”