New study will explore region’s labour market

(Photo courtesy ©Can Stock Photo Inc. / Tund)

Why some people in the London region aren’t interested in joining the local workforce will be the focus of a new research study.

The City of London, along with regional stakeholders from St. Thomas, Middlesex, Oxford and Elgin counties, have commissioned the Labour Survey 2021 to better understand the labour market and the availability of skilled workers.

“We’re one of only three communities across the province to have more people employed today than we did at the start of the first lockdown last March,” said London Mayor Ed Holder. “We know there is more we can do, and more we want to do, in order to grow our economy even further… It is my belief this research will provide a clear focus for the development of future strategies and programs related to increasing our labour pool.”

Prior to the pandemic, the region had a history of having one of the province’s lowest labour market participation rates. Even when job opportunities were plentiful, participation in the labour market remained flat. That left employers unable to fill vacant positions.

City officials are optimistic that a better understanding of the lack of participation and the overall size of the labour pool will help to correct the imbalance.

“Employers will continue to be looking for workers, especially during this year as the local economy recovers. The best time for someone to find a great job is when demand for workers is up, and we are looking to this study to give us the answers regarding what keeps people out of the labour market,” said Debra Mountenay from the Workforce Planning and Development Board.

The COVID-19 crisis delayed the launch of the study last year.

It will now be conducted by phone and online at www.laboursurvey.ca. It will focus on engaging those aged 25 to 54 who are not currently employed or actively looking for work.

“The imbalance in our labour market is not only a London issue, but a regional one,” said Jack Smit, who handles employment strategies with the city’s social services department. “This research will help inform both local and regional planning efforts as it relates to our economic development and the strengthening of our workforce.”