A new Shuswap Labour Market Study will be taking a grassroots approach to find out what the needs of potential employees and employers are.
The B.C. government has approved $282,635 in funding to support the study.
In January, the Adams Lake, Little Shuswap Lake, Neskonlith and Splatsin bands, Salmon Arm and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s Area C launched an economic planning opportunity called the Shuswap Labour Market Assessment and Action Planning project.
The project will create a strategy which includes an inventory of local labour-force skills and skill gaps, current and future labour-market needs, detailed action plans to help address those needs and a plan to implement the strategy.
Bonnie Thomas, one of the two project managers, is pleased with the approach.
“This one addresses the individual, the grassroots people, what are their needs…It’s how best can we plan for something that affects everyone across the board,” she said, noting the strategy makes much more sense than a top-down approach. “To actually have it coming from the people, that’s why I’m excited to participate.”
She emphasized a lot of collaboration and cooperation has been taking place in the Shuswap between First Nations and non-First Nations.
“The building bridges of understanding my mother used to talk about is forever in the back of my mind. To me, this is one small piece of that bridge.”
Community Futures leads the project in partnership with a Community Economic Partnership Committee (CEP) which includes Sexqeltkemc Enterprises Inc., Sexqeltkemc te Secwepemc (Lakes Division), Salmon Arm Economic Development Society, Salmon Arm Métis Association, Splatsin Development Corporation, Okanagan College, Focus Ability Workable Solutions and WorkBC Employment Services. The CEP has hired Ironsight Business Strategies, a local consulting firm, to complete the work.
“This is a particularly timely research project as the job market and employment opportunities have transitioned significantly in recent years,” said Rob Marshall with Community Futures Shuswap.
The Shuswap MLA thinks it is money well-spent.
“It is the perfect opportunity for stakeholders across the region to have their voices heard, and I can’t wait to see the final strategy put into action,” said MLA Greg Kyllo.
During the next several months, the Labour Market Assessment research team will be facilitating community input sessions, distributing surveys and conducting interviews throughout the Shuswap.
Surveys will be available online and through local businesses and organizations. Community meeting dates and locations are to be announced.