Deciphering the decline

A new survey aims to come up with answers for the region’s stubbornly low labour market participation

A NEW STUDY commissioned by the City of London and partners is looking to come up with an answer to the region’s lacklustre labour market participation rate.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, the London region’s job market has, for the most part, bounced back. But finding enough workers to fill new jobs in a number of sectors remains a barrier to economic growth.

The new research study, commissioned by the city and regional stakeholders from St. Thomas, Middlesex, Oxford and Elgin counties, will attempt to better understand the labour market participation and the potential availability of skilled individuals to join the workforce.

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“London’s regional economy has proven itself among the most resilient in all of Ontario during the Covid-19 pandemic, recovering more jobs ― and at a faster rate ― than Ottawa, Toronto, KW, Guelph, Hamilton, and Windsor. We’re also 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,” says 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, and this study – born out of the London Jobs Now Task Force – is a key piece of that effort,” continues Holder. “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.”

Historically, the London region has had one of the lowest labour market participation rates in Ontario. But over the past several years, local employers have reported significant difficulties in filling vacant positions.

“The issue of a high rate of non-participation in the labour market became a focal point in 2016, and while there has been improvement since then, our non-participant rate still means that there are many people who are not part of the labour market,” explains Debra Mountenay of the Workforce Planning and Development Board. “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.”

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“The imbalance in our labour market is not only a London issue, but a regional one,” adds Jack Smit, employment strategies, social services for the City of London. “This research will help inform both local and regional planning efforts as it relates to our economic development and the strengthening of our workforce. Our goal is to help build a strong economic region where everyone wanting to work is provided that opportunity. This survey will give us an insight into why skilled individuals are not participating in the labour market and help us design policies and practices to engage the talents of our community’s workforce.”

The survey, which is being conducted by outward-bound phone and online by Price Waterhouse Coopers, focuses on engaging individuals of “prime working age” (25 to 54) who are not actively involved in the labour market.

People fitting the criteria are invited to participate in the survey at Deciphering the decline labour market Workforce

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