Economic development is an essential element of city growth.
Without it a population does not grow.
New Trades and Technology Centres are not needed.
A new hospital would not be required.
Without recent economic growth the City would have struggled to take on the costs of the Gallagher Centre upgrade and expansion, a new fire hall, or the new water treatment plant, all elements of ensuring a solid future for the community.
But with the current economic growth both locally, and across Saskatchewan, a barrier has arisen, that of finding qualified people to fill jobs.
It is estimated some 60,000 additional employees will be required by businesses in the province by 2020.
Many in business in the province see the shortage of workers as the greatest challenge in regards to retention, expansion and new development in the sector.
At the regular meeting of Yorkton’s Economic Development Committee last Thursday, it was noted the City’s Economic Development Officer Faisal Anwar that with Yorkton it is expected some 800 new employees will be needed in Yorkton itself over then next few years.
That is in addition to the 1,000 jobs in the local region SaskJobs says exist now.
It is obvious there is a need for more people in Yorkton wanting jobs.
The question becomes how does a city grow its population in order to meet such needs?
The Yorkton Economic Development Committee has taken a proactive approach, recently investing $9,000 from the budget provided by the City of taxpayer dollars, to attend the National Job Fair & Training Expo in Toronto. The Yorkton booth was one of only seven among the nearly 150 from firms and organizations outside of Ontario.
Anwar, and City Communications Manager Roy Lanaway represented the City at the event, and both were enthusiastic about the response to the City’s ‘pitch’ to perspective job-seekers.
The effort included having interested job-seekers fill out a brief, online survey, providing some basic information regarding what the potential employees were trained for, and what they are expecting in terms of a career which might have them move to Yorkton.
The 172 contacts collected will be passed along to city and area businesses, who will then have the option to contact the job seekers if they can fill a local need.
Most times, when attending events such as the Job Expo, success is hard to quantify. It is about laying a groundwork, from which something might grow later. The list of names and contacts is concrete. It is something which can be tracked.
The EDC has found a possible employee resource, and put the onus on local business to take advantage of what taxpayer dollars helped achieve.
And, so a year from now, the true success of attending the Expo will be known by looking at how many of those 172 contacts reside in Yorkton by then.