Local authorities continue to try and solve the mystery of the Prescott-Russell labour shortage.
The United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) and the Employment Services Centre of Prescott-Russell have both conducted recent studies to identify solutions to the shortage of available labour in the region. The decision to conduct the UCPR study came after the Opportunités Prescott-Russell Opportunities (OPRO) report in early 2019 found that 45 per cent of businesses in the counties are having difficulty finding employees.
The Belleville-based Centre for Workforce Development (CFWD) is also attempting to understand why people in eastern Ontario cannot find work. It has partnered with the Eastern Ontario Training Board, which serves Prescott-Russell, and Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry to ask people why they are finding it difficult to get employment and began surveying residents in November.
For the UCPR study, Project Lead Geneviève Bougie said a close examination was needed.
“We decided to look deeper into what would be a solution for the problems we have,” she said.
OPRO was initially part of the UCPR’s Business Retention and Expansion initiative. The Employment Services Centre selected a consultant to facilitate the study and conduct two roundtables in early December, one with people from industry, and one with representatives from the education sector. Bougie said they were hoping to get responses from 150 businesses, and 150 job seekers for the study.
“The problem is growing and it’s not stepping back,” said Bougie.
The second part of the study will involve developing possible solutions to the local labour shortage based on the survey results. However, that will depend on funding, according to Bougie.
The current UCPR/Employment Services Centre study cost $59,000, but 100 per cent of it was paid for by a grant from the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development.
According to the WFDC, the participation rate in the labour force in eastern Ontario has declined over the past decade while the population of the region has increased by 12 per cent.