Southwestern Alberta’s economy has traditionally been strong, vibrant and diversified, but the region is not immune from the economic headwinds facing the province. To ensure the region continues to be a great place to live, work and do business, it is vital to have a workforce educated in the skills businesses need to thrive.
To help support the local economy, a group of seven partners have come together in a collaborative partnership to explore the skills needs of employers in southwestern Alberta. The Southwest Alberta Regional Skills Study will collect feedback from employers and job seekers across the region to better understand the region’s labour market strengths and challenges, and the skills needed to ensure a strong and vibrant economy well into the future.
The study is a collaboration between the Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance, Community Futures Alberta Southwest, Economic Development Lethbridge, Lethbridge College, SouthGrow Regional Initiative, the Town of Taber and Vulcan County.
“Lethbridge College’s mission is provide opportunities and programming that support our region’s economic and social needs,” says Dr. Paula Burns, Lethbridge College President and CEO. “This study and our work with these key partners will help us identify further areas that we can explore to make sure we are providing the skilled employees that our region needs to thrive.”
The study is jointly funded by the ministry of Alberta Labour and Immigration, and the partner organizations. The study is now underway and will include a combination of interviews, surveys and focus groups to collect community feedback. The first initiative is the launch of business and job seeker surveys that will be distributed to community stakeholders.
“Our region is dealing with the problems of success,” says Coutts Mayor Jim Willett, Chairperson of SouthGrow Regional Economic Development. “A lack of labor supply continually shows up as one of the top issues for many of our 26 communities who are experiencing sustained growth various sectors – particularly agri-food, energy and manufacturing. This study will help inform our efforts to meet that demand.”
As part of the assessment, the partner organizations are looking for feedback from people in southwest Alberta who are currently seeking employment. Anyone who meets this criteria is encouraged to fill out the Job Seeker Survey online. Anyone who fills out the survey will be entered into a draw for a $500 prize.
“Workforce is one of the areas we always talk about as an advantage for our area,” says Trevor Lewington, CEO, Economic Development Lethbridge. “When compared with other areas, Lethbridge has one the most youthful workforces in the country and with two world-class post-secondary institutions that workforce is very well prepared with the skills needed to contribute and innovate within Southwest Alberta”
The Province of Alberta is working in partnership with the Government of Canada to provide employment support programs and services.
If you would like more information about this initiative, please contact Charles McArthur from Lethbridge College at firstname.lastname@example.org or Peter Casurella from SouthGrow at email@example.com.
- “The Town of Taber has identified access to training for employees and the availability of skilled labour as top priorities for our business community. Gaining a greater understanding of the needs of our labour force now and into the future will help the Town determine how we can best assist our business community in addressing gaps. The collaborative approach to this project has provided the Town with a significant cost savings and allows us to continue to meet the objectives of the Town’s Economic Development Strategy.”
-Phyllis Monks, Director of Planning and Economic Development, Town of Taber
- “What gets measured gets managed, as the saying goes; the detailed insight from this labour market project will guide next steps as we join forces to strengthen our rural economy.”
-Bev Thornton, Executive Director, Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance
- “Community Futures Alberta Southwest is really excited to be a part of this project. We anticipate that our findings will help towards our mandate of business and economic development in our region.”
-Tony Walker, General Manager, Community Futures Alberta Southwest