Agilec, an Employment Ontario service provider that offers personalized support to job seekers and employers, in partnership with Holly Hayes and Trestle Consulting brought employment service providers to Whitney on Oct. 25 at the Lester B. Smith Community Centre. Bobbie-Lyn Roberts, program manager with Agilec and Holly Hayes, former CAO/clerk-treasurer of South Algonquin Township and the current senior project manager and change strategist with Trestle Consulting comment on how this employment collaboration day went.
Agilec worked with Trestle Consulting on this employment collaboration day at the Lester B. Smith Community Centre on Oct. 25. Hayes says that Agilec has the tools and a network of service providers to assist job seekers and employers navigate a changing labour market.
“They are funded by the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development and as such, they can provide services at no cost within our community,” she says.
Roberts told Bancroft This Week on Oct. 10 that they had planned this event to bring together employers and other community agencies that can be a support network for the citizens of Whitney.
“We will have guests from various local businesses speaking about their hiring needs, the skills they look for and what they offer their employees. Speakers include a representative from Globe Life AIL who offer remote employment opportunities as well as representatives from agencies that support people and economic growth, such as Vincent Galea of The Business Centre Nipissing Parry Sound. We are hopeful that people from the South Algonquin area will join us at the Lester B. Smith arena in Whitney on Oct. 25 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. to learn more about the services and employment and training opportunities available to them,” she says.
On Oct. 25, as Roberts stated, several different employers came by the Lester B. Smith Community Centre to give talks at this workshop. Unfortunately, the representative from Globe Life AIL, regarding remote work opportunities, was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict. However, in addition to talks by Roberts and James Salter, employment coach, from Agilec, Vincent Galea from The Business Centre Nipissing Parry Sound, Carolyn Barker Brown, loans officer and small business advisor from Community Futures Development Corporation, Angela Harrison, continuing education coordinator from Loyalist College, Luke Preston from Explorers’ Edge, Ontario Parks’ Krystal Sovie and John Swick (payroll specialist and superintendent respectively from Algonquin Park), and Valerie Tessier, employment support worker from the District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board, all spoke to the attendees about their organizations and prospective job and career opportunities.
Roberts told The Bancroft Times that she was very pleased with the turnout they had on Oct. 25.
“I am hopeful that the people who attended will share what they learned with others in the community so all of the agencies that were present can provide direction and support to people and businesses who are looking for these types of services,” she says.
Hayes told The Bancroft Times on Oct. 26 that she thought it went well and was thankful for everyone who attended. She thought there was some great conversation about next steps and many of the service providers acknowledged they don’t come to Whitney often enough and the event gave them the opportunity to network and create ideas.
“Some of the things I heard that I think are key is that Agilec has an amazing set of services that they want to share with out community; skills upgrades, job searching and employer support are just a few. James [Salter] has been and plans to continue to visit our community on a regular basis to build relationships and provide support. We talked a little about the work from home opportunity in South Algonquin and thought that he might provide some focus on helping the community navigate the remote job market. We already have many folks living and working at home in South Algonquin. Fostering this and helping others find work could be a key economic driver for us. Having people live here, earn a stable income from outside and spend in our community is the best scenario. At home work is also low impact. It doesn’t change the fabric of our community by increasing traffic, requiring infrastructure or changing land use,” she says.
Hayes said she also heard RTO has some really interesting tourism related housing strategies that she hopes will be researched further. She said that Loyalist College was interested in providing service if there are employers who have a training need or just general interest and that it would be fantastic to bring a program to the township. She said that DNSSAB noted that they can see opportunity for some collaboration to reduce barriers and help the community, including working with some of the service providers at the event that they didn’t know serviced the community.
“From employers, we heard that they want to provide stable, dependable opportunities and there is a labour shortage. There were new and small business supports who discussed what they’ve been doing and how they can help. I know business owners who work incredibly hard in this community and it feels like everywhere I go there is a discussion about shopping local and the importance of it. That sentiment hasn’t made it to South Algonquin. It feels like no one has ever whispered it here. So, I will. If you live in this community and drive to Golden Lake to buy gas or Barry’s Bay to buy milk, please don’t be shocked that our services are few and diminishing. Buy local when you can. Amazon doesn’t need your help,” she says. “My goal with this event was to start a discussion and I think we’ve done that and I look forward to continuing to network with these great people.”
Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times