What kind of challenges do you face as an employer in Williams Lake?
That’s one of the questions organizers are hoping to ask during What Works! Designing Employment Solutions, a community summit taking place Tuesday, Feb. 26.
“This event is really focused on seeing how can we support employers who are struggling to find employees in a shallow labour market where lots of the folks who are looking don’t have the qualifications or skills that employers are looking for or who may have some barriers to employment,” said Anne Burrill, Thrive Williams Lake Project lead who is co-ordinating the summit with Beth Veenkamp, the City’s economic development officer.
Burrilll said the concept for the summit began at the Regional Education Council (REC) table and then the Thrive project and the City came on board to assist in the planning and logistics as partners with the REC committee.
Veenkamp said she continues to hear of gaps in the local labour market.
“We know that we are short early childhood educators, nurses, and we are going to be short of care aids when the new long-term health care facility opens and the city’s been trying to recruit an engineer for over a year and a half now,” Veenkamp said.
One of the most in-demand jobs out there is truck drivers because they are so busy right now cleaning up after the wildfires, she added.
Burrill said the keynote speaker for the summit is Kristi Fairholm Mader from Victoria who has been involved with social enterprise networking on Vancouver Island.
“Kristi has done a bunch of work with employers and case studies of employers who have hiring practices around working with people who have employment challenges,” Burrill said, noting there will also be a panel discussion where local employers will share some insights.
Veenkamp said Williams Lake needs its own solutions that will work for the community.
“At a recent chamber meeting I said, ‘nobody is coming to save us,’” she said.
“We really want employers to attend the summit so we can hear straight from them what their challenges are. We’ve got anecdotal information to glean from, but we want to tap into what is true for people locally.”
The workshop registration is free and will be held at the Pioneer Complex at 351 Hodgson Road, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lunch will be provided.
Last November, Burrill launched a Business at Its Best campaign, asking the public to nominate employers that are doing great things.
She received 38 nominations for 26 different businesses.
Two themes emerged, she said.
“One was around relationships and how an employee was treated and the other was flexibility and how it works both ways,” Burrill said.
There will be a recognition breakfast of the nominees on Friday, Feb. 22 at Pioneer Complex at 7:30 a.m
Anyone wanting to get tickets can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.