District extends Labour Market Strategy

The contract for the Houston Labour Market Strategy was extended until November 30, 2014 to finish developing the Houston strategy.

The District of Houston has extended the contract for the Houston Labour Market Strategy until November 30, 2014.

Consultants Andrea Newell and Pat Hufnagel-Smith were hired March 3, 2014 to coordinate several initiatives to help Houston transition after the closure of Houston Forest Products May 9.

A major part of their work was developing a Houston Labour Market Strategy, a plan for closing the gap between the labour force needed in the Houston area and the existing labour force.

They presented their draft strategy to Houston Mayor and Council at a meeting September 16, with the goal to gather feedback and finish the strategy by September 30.

But Chief Administrative Officer Michael Glavin says they ran out of time because of the timing of the report to council and council’s commitments for the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

The contract was extended two months, paid for through an un-used $5,700 that was set aside for a webpage for the project.

Consultants will review the strategy with the newly elected District of Houston council Nov. 18.

They are also helping the Houston Health Committee expand to include groups from the Community Services Pillar.

Finally, they will upgrade the labour market strategy as required by council, and finalize and disperse it.

The draft strategy was based on research and interviews with major Houston employers and service providers, and included the following five priorities.

First, continue to support the transition of workers impacted by the HFP closure.

Second, promote a “work where you live” value and offer support and training for employers to attract, recruit and retain workers.

Third, develop a resilient economy by encouraging existing businesses to diversify and strengthening the workforce to know how skills transfer between different sectors of business.

Fourth, help youth transition more effectively into the workforce by incorporating more real-life information and job search skills into school programs and encouraging education-industry partnerships.

Fifth, address barriers which are keeping Houston people from the workforce, including lack of high school, literacy issues, no drivers licence or reliable transportation, lack of childcare or health issues.

This  draft will be finalized and dispersed by November 30.