Monday, May 15, 2017

City of Prince Rupert to join Northwest initiative for worker recruitment

Council reviewed a new initiative to try and
attract workers to the Northwest

A late addition to the City Council agenda from last week made for a wide ranging discussion on how the City of Prince Rupert should approach the topic of worker recruitment in the region, with Council members providing for a number of opinions on whether Prince Rupert should join other communities in the Northwest in a shared information and recruitment project.

Corinne Bomben, the City's Financial Officer outlined the nature of the initiative, which is called the Northwest Regional Workforce Attraction Initiative.

The project which is being spearheaded by the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine, will see the civic governments across the region pitch in to make the case for the Northwest as a good location for workers to explore, highlighting the attractions that the region may have to offer.

As Ms. Bomben explained it, the project which is looking to access grant funding would see the implementation of a number of concepts to deliver information about the communities of the Northwest, included in the project is a video to highlight the region, with plans to make the project part of the various online information streams that each community host.

It was not outlined as part of the presentation, what workers the program is designed to attract, something that did leave a few of the Council members a little cautious towards the proposal.

Council members also offered up comments related to the potential cost of the program and whether the City should become involved in a project that recruits workers for other communities.

Councillors Thorkelson and Randhawa outlined their thoughts on the need for more training locally for workers for any jobs that may be available, with Councillor Thorkelson also expressing some concerns that the program may deliver a number of workers who would come to Prince Rupert on spec looking for work and expect that there would be housing and jobs available.

Further to that point, Ms. Thorkelson noted that the approach the city should take is to ensure that those industries that are setting up in the community are dedicated towards training local workers for any jobs that may become available.

Councillor Mirau noted some findings from the recent business walk that he participated in, noting how many local companies are having difficulty in staffing positions locally and how the City needs to take a leadership role in attracting skilled labour to the community.

Councillors Niesh and Cunningham both offered their support for the initiative, with Mr. Cunningham adding that he thought it was a good idea as long as the City received equal representation to the other communities that are participating.

For his part Mayor Brain observed to some of the stresses that some of the local business operators have faced, noting that the recent hiring by the container port resulted in some employees having left the local businesses, moving over to the higher paying jobs of the port as they became available.

He observed how the Northwest Regional Workforce Attraction Initiative might help to bring new people to the area, something which could benefit those looking for staff.

To help reduce any concerns over the nature of the cost of the program, Ms. Bomben observed that the project was seeking grant funding for the imitative through the BC Rural Dividend Fund, and that the worst case scenario for the city would be a potential cost of 5,000 dollars through the duration of the project.

Following the discussion, Council voted to participate in the project.

A full overview of the discussion can be found from our Council Timeline Feature of last week.

As well, you can review the talking points on the theme from the City's Video Archive, the discussion starts at the 1 hour mark of last Monday's council meeting.

The project was also a topic for the City Council in Kitimat two weeks ago, you can review some of their contributions to the discussion  on the project here.

The background report for Kitimat Council that outlines the scope of the proposed program can be found on page 117 of their Council agenda from May 1st.

Some of the financial notes related to the initiative can be reviewed below:

The proposed initiative will include two phases. Phase one involves submitting a $10,000 application to the Rural Dividend program through the Regional District Kitimat-Stikine. 

If approved, these funds will be used to develop a strategy (business case) for the project, including identifying target audiences, potential tools and techniques, and project costing. The second phase would involve implementation of the strategy. 

It is anticipated that the entire project could cost between $100,000 and $500,000. 

It is anticipated that these funds can be largely obtained through leveraging grant funding opportunities and will likely result in each participant organization contributing between $0 and $5,000. 

It is anticipated that the finalized campaign would be ready for public launch in a time frame of 18 to 24 months. 

May 31st is the deadline for the Kitimat initiative to gain the support of the various city Councils and for officials to submit the application to the BC Rural Dividend.

For more items related to City Council Discussions see our archive page here.

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