As identified in the County’s 2021-2025 Economic Development Strategy, a major challenge for employers is attracting and retaining workforce. In response, the Economic Development Office (EDO) implemented a multi-faceted workforce attraction and retention program called Work in Simcoe County with leveraged funds from the Rural Economic Development program to implement a responsive solution in collaboration with partners. One of the key activities was executing virtual job fair events. In November 2021 and April 2022, the County and partners, including the Cities of Barrie and Orillia, Georgian College, Province of Ontario, Employment Ontario, Lakehead University, and the Simcoe Muskoka Workforce Development Board hosted virtual hiring events on an innovative platform that allowed job seekers and employers to seamlessly engage through text, audio, and video. The event platform included several unique features, such as the ability for job seekers to upload their resumes, which made the screening process easier for employers. These events connected job seekers to regional employers and increased awareness and connections to resources. Over 550 referrals for Employment Ontario were gathered through registration, which enabled partners to help jobseekers prepare.
From a sustainability perspective, these events enabled the County and partners to generate over 2000 conversations and connections between job seekers and employers. The EDO is continuously building on previous success and will be hosting another event in January 2023.
Objectives and Impact
|Objectives and Anticipated Outcomes||Impact at a glance|
|1. Connect job seekers and employers||179 employers and 833 job seekers attended both job fairs
|2. Create an opportunity for connections to be made and vacant jobs to be filled||A total of 2,102 chats occurred between job seekers and employers, lasting 7.2 minutes on average|
|3. Provide job seekers with education||Hosted live webinars on topics such as Employment Ontario with 366 participants in total.|
|4. Provide job seekers with support from Employment Ontario to prepare for the event||Referred 553 job seekers to Employment Ontario offices for support.
Challenges and Changes Made
The County of Simcoe had not hosted a job fair before these events, which created a learning curve for organizers and participants. To address this challenge, resources were shared, and onboarding sessions were held to support employers and job seekers. The event was organized with feedback from the working committee including members from Employment Ontario and area municipalities. In addition, the EDO worked with a group of Lakehead Master of Business Administration students to help identify an effective event platform and formulate a plan. There were also employers that wanted to participate but were unable to attend. In response, the Employment Ontario resource booth shared 96 positions on behalf of employers who were unable to attend. The Employment Ontario booth completed 195 conversations across both fairs.
The target audiences were regional employers, and job seekers looking to find work in Simcoe County. Employers represented various sectors such as manufacturing, trades, tourism, education and more. The virtual format allowed for delivery in a safe and convenient manner and attracted job seekers from across the globe.