Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Economic Development & Tourism made a big announcement at the Fort McMurray Golf Club this week.
They will be launching a Workforce Immigration & Support Program, in partnership with local community organizations. The program is set to assist local employers with labour shortage issues.
“The labour shortage struggle in our region and across Canada is very real,” says FMWB Economic Development & Tourism President & CEO Kevin Weidlich, “When we think about growing the local economy and creating greater sustainability, our success will largely depend on having a local workforce in place to support small, medium, and large businesses produce products and deliver their services. The competition for labour across the globe is fierce and this program helps us stand out, making Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo the destination of choice for work opportunities, and turning newcomers into permanent long-term residents.”
In order for employers to qualify for the program, they must first demonstrate practices for hiring local first before expanding their recruitment efforts for harder-to-fill roles. The program is geared towards prospective workers already in Canada such as temporary foreign workers already in the region, Keyano College graduate international students and newcomers on a work visa already working in other parts of Canada.
There are currently over 1 million job vacancies in Canada, with over 100,000 of those belonging to Alberta. The Government of Alberta has launched the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program – Rural Renewal Stream to help Fort McMurray and two other communities outside of major centres who are experiencing even further challenges attracting and retaining labour.
“Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo is key to a competitive, prosperous, and vibrant Alberta,” said FMWBEDT Director of Brand & Marketing Andrea Haley. “(This new plan) supports local employers, while highlighting the region as a welcoming place for newcomers to become part of the community, put down roots and build lifelong connections.”
The program is not run by the government but rather a community-driven approach with collaboration from the RMWB and the Regional Labour Market Committee which is made up of the Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce, Keyano College and the YMCA of Northern Alberta.
“We hear regularly from local businesses and employers about their struggle to attract and retain labour,” said Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dianna de Sousa, who also serves as Chair of the Regional Labor Market Committee. “We formed the Regional Labour Market Committee to tackle this issue, together as a region, because it affects the entire business community, and our ability to grow and expand local business.”
One of the top advantages of the Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo region is its cultural diversity as well as the social and economic contributions from newcomers.
“Newcomer services are essential in helping immigrants navigate and integrate into life in Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo,” says Beverley Tjarera, Newcomer Services Program Manager for YMCA of Northern Alberta. “Our purpose is to make the transition as smooth as possible through the provision of programs and services that best meet the needs of immigrants. This is an important factor to having open and inclusive communities where newcomers feel welcome and set to live here long term.”
RMWB mayor Sandy Bowman says the program contributes to their strategic mission of being inclusive and providing a sustainable source of healthy living and prosperity for residents, newcomers and visitors alike. “Living here for close to 30 years, I’m proud of the way we come together and make people feel
welcome,” says Bowman, “Whether you’ve come here from Alberta, another part of Canada, or from somewhere else around the world, there is a place for you here.”
For more information on the program or to participate in a future Employer Information Session, check out this link.
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Mike has called Fort McMurray home for the past eight years. A true man about town, Mike loves supporting local artists and small businesses by using his platform to promote them however he can. In his spare time, you can find Mike checking out new music, drinking craft beer or managing his fantasy football team!
Mike strives to live life to its fullest and adopts a glass half full perspective. He is a constant promoter of all things positive in Fort McMurray and can’t wait to help share the Good News with you!