April 27, 2018
By Tim Meeks, Intelligencer/Trentonian Friday, April 27, 2018
Belleville – A new pilot project is being launched by Quinte Immigration Services (QUIS) to address labour shortages in the region.
As in many regions in the province, sectors of the regional economy are facing labour shortages not met by the regional work force.
QUIS, in partnership with the East Central Ontario Training Board, Bay of Quinte Regional Marketing Board, City of Belleville, City of Quinte West and Hastings County, is launching the new pilot project, funded in part by both the federal and provincial governments to target foreign-trained skilled workers fitting the needs of regional labour shortages.
The pilot project is the brainchild of QUIS executive director Orlando Ferro.
“It’s about addressing labour shortages. There was a Belleville job fair held where there were 900 job vacancies and only 400 people showed up and, of those, only 200 people had the qualifications to fill those jobs,” Ferro said.
“So I came up with the idea for the pilot project and approached the ministries and they felt it was a good idea and decided to support it. I contacted the municipalities and the training and marketing boards and we’ve worked out a strategic plan that will be in place on our information portal within the next four months.”
Some of the many challenges of economic sustainability for small and rural communities are an aging population, a low birth rate and the exodus of younger generations to larger urban centres.
The concept of tying immigration to economic development is consistent with the flow of people, goods and services.
“This presents an opportunity for local communities to meet labour market demands by attracting and retaining newcomers and by the creation of jobs through the establishment of new business,” Ferro said. “To take advantage of this opportunity, a sound strategic plan is in place and will be tested through the pilot project to attract and retain new entrepreneurship and skilled workers.
“Part of the problem is young people are moving to the west side of Toronto for better opportunities, and we need them to come to the east side of the city, but there has to be something here for them,” Ferro said.
Since October 2016 QUIS has received enquiries from corporations and individuals from abroad, mostly in the service sector, regarding the potential establishment of operations and immigration procedures for those already approved to come to Canada.
In 2017, through the Quinte Local Immigration Partnership, QUIS organized a meeting of the regional municipalities and economic development stakeholders to discuss the existing support services and gaps for economic migration in the Quinte region.
Geographic service areas were part of the discussion, as well as potential duplication and gaps of services needed to support international business willing to start operations in the Quinte region.
“As a result of stakeholder meetings, a plan has been created to target foreign trained skilled workers fitting the needs of the regional labour shortages,” Ferro said. “This project will also develop a tailored system of information sharing that will promote local business opportunities to potential immigrant entrepreneurs.”
A consolidation of information of the existing infrastructure in the Bay of Quinte, its labour force and venture opportunities, often looked at by foreign corporations when planning for relocation feasibility, will be provided to interested parties through this new pilot project.
“A one stop shop for information is being organized to compile and update the essential information needed by foreign entrepreneurs when choosing to relocate to our region and high skilled workers looking for employment opportunities in the Bay of Quinte region,” he said.
The Bay of Quinte Immigration Portal (http://immigration.bayofquinte.ca/) will be the key resource for sharing the local information.
“With the increasing of new immigration quotas in the next three years, the Quinte region is planning to expand the capacity of recruitment of much needed new business and a strong labour force,” Ferro said.