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Workforce in Peterborough & the Kawarthas

By Rhonda Keenan
Aerial view of a city

Workforce is every company’s most valued asset. With a top team of talent, a company performs well.

However, when a company is missing important talent or making do with an under-skilled team the company struggles to grow and realize its full potential. In a community where several businesses are not reaching their full potential because the right talent and workforce is not available, the local economy struggles to grow and thrive as well. In Peterborough & the Kawarthas, we have workforce challenges that are impacting the prosperity of the local economy.

The region has a lower participation rate than many other communities in Ontario, meaning that we have a higher proportion of working-age people that are not actively working, nor are they actively trying to find work. At the same time, we are seeing hundreds of companies with full-time job postings that are not being filled which include a significant number of good-paying jobs with growth opportunity, which can be found on the Workforce Development Board’s job board that identifies the number of full-time, part-time, seasonal and permanent jobs available in this region.

Certainly, the impacts of COVID-19 have exacerbated this problem, however, this trend existed prior to the pandemic. While this may seem like a daunting problem to overcome, it is important to note that a lot of work is happening behind the scenes to build a long-term job-ready workforce of the future. Many programs are being built in collaboration with industry and academia:

Junior Achievement Northern and Eastern Ontario are working with key industry leaders and local school boards to build connections and improve work readiness in students. Educating students (and more importantly, parents) on the career paths and earning potential of pursuing a career in skilled trades. The Muskoka-Kawarthas Service System Manager at Fleming College is a new pilot program intended to remove barriers to employment and improve job retention.

Fleming College is supporting several local companies with specialized programs to provide soft skills and basic training programs for industry, such as aerospace, steel and aluminum manufacturers, with more to come. Trent University has CareerSpace to help students connect with local employers and create meaningful experiential learning opportunities.

While there is a significant amount of work to do, today’s employees no longer expect to enter a job or career that will be maintained until retirement. In Peterborough & the Kawarthas, we are working hard to build a culture that is open to and encouraging of life-long learning, so workers can keep up with changes in the economy and advance in their careers if they wish, allowing them to reach their full potential, which will allow local businesses and the community at large to reach their full potential as well.

Rhonda Keenan