The Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus releases a blueprint for building economic strength
Southwestern Ontario – The Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (WOWC) is pleased to announce the release of “Planning for Prosperity: Building Economic Strength through Workforce Development,” a ground-breaking and comprehensive regional strategy intended to address current and future workforce demand across the Western Ontario region.
The release of the Western Ontario Workforce Strategy follows more than one year of collaborative research, analysis, and consultations with multiple regional partners and workforce stakeholders, to assess and to prepare for the challenges facing municipalities and employers, including workforce recruitment and retention; affordable and attainable housing; attracting newcomers; leveraging the existing population; educating youth about local career opportunities, and recalibrating postsecondary education to meet emerging demand.
The four overarching goals of the Workforce Strategy are:
- Workforce Retention and Attraction: collective efforts to attract population and workers to the region
- Leveraging Existing Population: aligning post secondary education with industry needs
- Attainable Housing: providing innovative and compelling housing options to meet demand
- Employer Recruitment and Retention: supporting regional employers with their human resources practices
The WOWC received funding from the Ontario Labour Market Partnership to support the development of the Strategy. Ontario Labour Market Partnerships are funded in part by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.
“This is a collaborative and regional project in every sense of the word,” stated Warden George Cornell, Chair of the WOWC. “Collectively, our member municipalities understand that improved access to attainable housing is crucial to workforce recruitment and retention. The Workforce Strategy provides a practical blueprint, with measurable outcomes, to allow us to move forward in a spirit of positive cooperation with our senior government partners.”
The Workforce Strategy further highlights another impactful example: when combining the demand of new and expanding firms as well as the existing replacement demand in Western Ontario, there are 213,900 jobs that will be created over the 2020-2030 period – and that must be filled in this region alone, along with appropriate housing supports for these employees.
“Our strategy looks at the broad workforce challenges of attracting people to the region – and beyond that, retaining them,” added Mayor George Bridge, Chair of the WOWC Economic Development Committee. “For that reason, the strategy also focuses on housing, education, and quality of life. It remains clear, now more than ever, that workforce challenges have impacts on multiple sectors. As the cost of housing continues to increase, for example, this has become significantly more challenging and concerning to municipalities and employers across our region.”
“I want to congratulate the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus on the release of this workforce plan,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “It provides important insights to help businesses, especially our small shops, retain and attracting top talent so we can grow our economy for everyone. Our government is proud to support projects like this.”
To learn more about the Western Ontario Workforce Strategy and to download a copy of the full report as well as the accompanying summary documents, please visit www.workforcestrategy.wowc.ca.
The Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (WOWC) is a not-for-profit organization representing 15 upper and single tier municipalities in Southwestern Ontario, representing more than 1.5 million residents. The WOWC aims to enhance the prosperity and overall wellbeing of rural and small urban communities across the region. Caucus members work collectively to influence federal and provincial legislation and programs through advocacy, research and analysis and education. For more information, visit www.wowc.ca.