Mayor Ed Holder announces the London Jobs Now task force at Diamond Aircraft, April 12, 2019. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

Report finds disconnect between London job seekers, employers

A disconnect between London’s job seekers and employers has led to a “jobs crisis” in getting positions filled within the city, according to a new report from the mayor’s office.

Mayor Ed Holder’s London Jobs Now task force released the 12-page report on Wednesday. It declares a “jobs crisis” as London has the worst employment rate among the 35 Canadian census metropolitan areas measured by Statistics Canada. That is despite having 8,695 current job openings across the region, 4,300 of which are in London.

“The difficulty in filling those jobs is putting a significant strain on London’s businesses,” the report stated. “Many local businesses need more staff to keep their doors open. And some national/international firms with London operations have started to look at other communities to fill their staffing demands.”

The biggest problem identified by the task force is in engaging the city’s so-called “hidden unemployed”, people between the ages of 25 to 64 who currently don’t have work and aren’t actively looking for a job. These people are considered difficult to engage through traditional recruiting methods.

The report goes on to lay out four recommendations to fix the staffing troubles. The first is to create a London region online jobs board, similar to the one Windsor launched in February. The easy to use, one-stop-shop for jobs will include transit stop and childcare facility locations near job vacancies and be automatically updates with the latest openings every hour, seven days a week. The online London job board cost $45,000 to create and service for the year and is slated to go live on June 28.

The second recommendation calls for improved public transit to get workers to and from industrial parks in the south and east ends of the city.

“The lack of reliable service is a major reason why more than 1,000 production line jobs in those areas are unfilled. The problem has been identified and studied for years. For London, bus service that gets workers to our plants on time is an essential requirement for filling jobs,” the report said.

The third and fourth recommendations are for the development of a four-year sustainable business plan to fill jobs and for the media to hold city council, city staff, and the area’s economic development agencies to account in filling the job openings.

The task force compiled the report based on a detailed analysis of Statistics Canada data and hundreds of interviews with area job seekers and employers.

“I know there are many in the community who may view this as yet another political gesture. Having reviewed the report, I can assure you that this is one of the deepest and most comprehensive dives into the very real and sobering employment statistics that has ever been undertaken in this city,” said Gerry McCartney, London Chamber of Commerce general manager and task force member. “While none of us are very pleased, or proud of the critical discoveries revealed in the report, this is an effort we have no choice but to act on. What’s at stake is the viability and sustainability of London’s workforce, its economy, and its hope for a successful future.”

Holder officially unveiled his London Jobs Now task force in April, the idea for which he originally announced during his State of the City address in January. It is made up of representatives from city hall, the London Economic Development Corporation, the London Chamber of Commerce, Western University, Fanshawe College, London Region Manufacturing Council, and Knighthunter.

The task force has already seen some success, drawing an extra 1,100 job seekers to the London and Area Job fair at the Western Fair District in April. The group distributed roughly 50,000 invitations to the job fair to area homes. Thousands of additional invitations were sent through social media.

The strategy helped London manufacturer Diamond Aircraft fill 50 vacant positions at its London manufacturing facility.

To view the full report click here.