Worker shortage has to be about more than money

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Whoever can crack the nut of making viable connections between those needing work in our area and the jobs available could accomplish an undeniable step towards our region’s progress.

It’s general knowledge that within the City of Cornwall, there are several employers who have been struggling to find people who want to work in their businesses. You can see it in the almost-monthly job fairs, the open-ended recruitment and, in at least one case, the employer busing in people from outside the region to work in Cornwall.

Yet, we also know our city to be one where the proportion of those receiving benefits from government are higher than average— even though they declined in the 2016 census.

Given the consistent need, it’s not a leap of faith to say the positions consistently available aren’t suited to the people seeking or needing work.

Not everyone is cut out to do well in logistics, a call centre or making bacon. None of the positions’ pay scales start at what could be made in the low-skilled jobs available in plants that closed decades ago.

On the education front, we have a respected logistics management program based at St. Lawrence College Cornwall. We have other business related courses available to assist with general office and communications skills. We even have something rare in the city, a private-sector school that trains people to cut meat.

But enrolment in these courses isn’t bursting at the seams, nor is it meet the demands of the businesses seeking employees in the city.

On Friday, Minister of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman heard about a severe labour shortage on area farms. Farmers cannot find people to work with them in their businesses.

He mentioned a need for more education.

Given all but five of our high schools offer an agricultural specialist high-skills major program, there’s not much more possible there. The University of Guelph’s research station in Winchester is brand spanking new, but that same institution walked away from Kemptville College due to lack of enrolment.

Could it be something as simple as money? That the jobs we have just don’t pay what people believe is worth improving their skillsets to get?

If they all paid more, it’s reasonable to think that would entice people to train and apply for those positions.

I don’t think it’s that simple.

If it were, that challenge would have already been solved.

hrodrigues@postmedia.com

twitter.com/HugoAPRodrigues

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