In February 2020, the Workforce Alignment Committee of the Brandon Chamber of Commerce conducted a Skills and Opportunities Roundtable Summit. The objective of the summit was to bring a diverse group of community and business leaders together to gain an understanding of the issue of skilled labour shortage in the community.
Through facilitated table discussions, a variety of questions were asked, to understand the extent to which employers were, in fact, dealing with a labour shortage, versus a skills shortage or skills mismatch.
In compiling the data, information, comments and suggestions five broad themes surfaced:
- The Importance of Soft Skills – As a result of societal priorities and the application of technology individuals seem to struggle with many of the soft skills required for them to be successful in the workplace. The development of such skills resides not only with the education system but parents, families, sports and business.
- The Shift in Work / Life Balance – People today want to have more flexibility in the type of work they do, in understanding their career progression, in working to live rather than living to work, to be part of dynamic and inclusive workplaces. Traditional workplaces are under pressure to change, but struggle with identifying the approach and understanding the tools available to do so.
- Education and Business Working Together – Education and business need to continue to look for opportunities to work together to ensure skills development in school transfers into career success for students. Businesses have the opportunity to build relationships with institutions and students and have the responsibility to be an active participant in helping to shape student success.
- The Need for Retention – In the past, employers could focus their efforts in the areas of attraction and recruitment, but as the labour market has tightened up, it is becoming more and more important to retain key talent. Retaining talent requires employers to shift their thinking around the role employees play within their business and to put in place the systems that allow them to progress and thrive, in order to retain them.
- The Need to Be Inclusive – Companies today have far more diverse workplaces. There is an understanding that each group uniquely adds to the diversity of the labour market, both positively and negatively, and it requires workplaces to understand the needs of each group to achieve better outcomes for employers and employees.
This report represents the beginning of both a conversation and the basis for next steps for the committee. We understand the issue of skilled labour shortages is not one that will be solved overnight, but looking forward, we believe tackling some of the issues identified in this report will allow us to get one step closer. A skilled workforce is critical to our community’s ability to attract and retain business, thereby ensuring we have a strong economy building an even stronger community.