Area employers plan to hire this year

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The EmployerOne survey, designed to provide useful data about employer needs in the region, was released March 23 in London.

Information was gathered earlier this year from more than 300 employers in Oxford, Elgin and Middlesex Counties and the City of London through an online survey. It will be used as the basis for local workforce planning to ensure employers can find the right people they need for their business.

Conducted by the Elgin Middlesex Oxford Workforce Planning and Development Board, the survey seeks information on turnover, recruitment methods, plans to hire, skills and education requirements.

Respondents indicated their current workforce was primarily full-time (68 per cent) or permanent part-time (14.39 per cent).

While there has been a shift over the years to more part-time jobs, Art Lawson, general manager of South Central Ontario Region (SCOR) Economic Development Corporation, said we're starting to see some shifting back to full-time.

"Particularly for skilled positions," said Lawson. "There's more competition, so in order to secure people, the security of a full-time position is much more attractive. So to get what you want it's requiring a bit more of a commitment to people rather than a part-time or contract type job.

"There are still businesses out there who require year-round, full-time work in order to carry out their business."

The breakdown of workers showed that 12.8 per cent were under 25, and 19.89 per cent 55 or older. Many employers support training for their current workforce by funding it completely or partially. Employers also offered flexibility to employees in order for them to attend training and skills upgrading.

Looking forward, a large majority of employers said they will be looking to hire over the next 12 months, due mainly to plans to expand or to fill a vacant position, indicating they plan to hire production and service workers, followed by professionals.

"I think the economy here is continuing to come back," said Lawson. "There is expansion going on and new employers coming in, so I think it's a very positive thing."

Employers continue to use informal networks and word-of-mouth as their primary method of recruitment followed by online job boards and the company's own website.

And that, said Lawson, has not changed much since they started the survey four years ago.

"The vast number of employers hire based on referrals. So it could be existing staff bringing a friend or someone they know, or someone the owner or manager knows. Or it's just people who walk in.

"The irony is, they're often not very happy with what they get. It usually doesn't get you the results you were hoping for. But the fact is, they didn't really do a search, they took what came.

"It's sort of the opposite for job seekers. They typically look on job boards or go to websites. So I think there is a bit of a mismatch in the way job seekers look for work versus how employers look for employees.

"What we've learned from it is that we have to convince employers to actually conduct a search, and the other is, for people seeking jobs, be prepared to go out and do some networking so they can be referred or they can find opportunities that don't get advertised."

Social media has become part of the process, said Lawson, and free services.

"It's just a matter of getting employers to take advantage of those. And the counterpart, trying to get job seekers to be more proactive in terms of networking and getting exposed to opportunities that may not be advertised."

As indicated by the survey, barriers to employers include 'applicants not meeting the skills,' 'experience or attitude/interpersonal/motivational requirements,' and a number of 'hard to fill' positions.

More detailed information, including county breakdowns, and analysis available at www.workforcedevelopment.ca and www.worktrends.ca.

"The sample size isn't quite big enough to do it by township, or a particular small community, but the same survey is done across Ontario now. So summaries can be done on a type of business... and that can be very helpful because different types of businesses encounter different types of issues." 

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