Facilitating workforce development: The economic developer’s role in supporting economic stability in medium and small resource-based British Columbian cities
The availability of a talented workforce is increasingly being cited as a barrier to growth by businesses across Canada. This worker shortage is particularly challenging for organizations looking to expand in medium and small resource-based cities. This is due to an increase in outmigration to large cities by people seeking knowledge economy based employment and negative perceptions of resource-based cities. These factors hinder employer’s ability to attract people to their smaller resource-reliant communities from other cities. Economic developers in these smaller cities can adjust to these changing realities by highlighting their community’s strengths in relation to larger cities to attract and retain the skilled talent needed to support the growth of their existing businesses and to attract new business. Economic developers in the Kootenays, Prince George and Quesnel have all recognized this opportunity and the work being done in these communities to increase the population base can be used as a model by other communities grappling with similar workforce attraction and retention issues.
Keywords: economic development, workforce, population, attraction and retention, natural resources, urbanization, outmigration