The County of Simcoe Economic Development Office, in partnership with member municipalities, the Cities of Barrie and Orillia, the Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre at Georgian College, the Simcoe Muskoka Workforce Development Board along with several supporting partners delivered a virtual Workforce Connect Conference on April 5th and 6th, 2022. The conference was created in direct response to industry feedback received through the development of the County of Simcoe’s 2021-2025 Economic Development Strategy surrounding challenges with workforce attraction and retention.
The objective of the new and innovative conference was to create practical learning opportunities and offer a forum where local businesses could create connections and share best practices on talent attraction and retention tactics. Key topics included strategies for inclusive workplaces, pathways to prepare for this new world of work and future proofing learning and development. The event also promoted several resources for employers such as Employment Ontario.
The knowledge of opportunities, trends, best practices along with the connections gained from the conference contribute to economic sustainability by enabling businesses to implement best practices and achieve results.
Objectives and Impacts
|Objectives and Anticipated Outcomes||Impact at a glance|
|1. Educate employers on the future of work and related trends with thought leadership from Andrew Au||On day one, 110 participants attended, and the recording was shared.
|2. Educate employers on how to future proof learning and strategies for inclusive workplaces with thought leadership from Dr. Belanger and World Education Services||On day two, 80 participants attended the keynote and roundtable discussions, and recordings were shared.|
|3. Create awareness of key topics before and after the event||In addition to activities during the event, 5 blogs were created in advance to increase registration with 1625 impressions. Please refer to supporting document 3. Take-home resources and recordings were also shared on the event website.
|4. Create an opportunity for local employers to create B2B connections and share best practices||This was achieved through interactive roundtable discussions on the innovative REMO platform. Please see supporting document 4 for details.
A best practices infographic was created based on roundtable discussions and posted on the website. This is an asset that is shared on an ongoing basis. Please see supporting document 2.
88% of survey respondents agreed that they would recommend the event to others.
Challenges and Changes Made
The conference was held in April, at a time when some events were in person, but the threat of the pandemic was still top of mind. Partners expressed concerns of “zoom fatigue” with virtual events. In response, the event was hosted over 2 mornings in a succinct format on the REMO platform, which enabled an environment where attendees could interact in an engaging way. Working with Georgian College to deliver the event on this platform, employers could move from table to table and have meaningful, small-group conversations. Please see Supporting Document 4.
The event targeted regional businesses including business, leaders, entrepreneurs and human resource professionals across sectors such as manufacturing, tourism, technology and more.