May 13, 2024

Funding Designed to Address Labour Market Gap


PORT HARDY – The Port Hardy Chamber of Commerce is pleased and grateful to announce receipt of $491,800 from the Rural Economic Diversification and Infrastructure Program (REDIP) which is a new grant launched by the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development, and Innovation (JEDI).

The purpose of the grant is to fund a comprehensive training project, Retail & Customer Service Confidence a certificate program to help members of our local community to join the workforce, and to provide quality local employees to our business community.

A recent poll of Chamber members uncovered a common theme – how to address the labour market gap – and hire qualified individuals to fill entry level jobs. This has come to light even more during Shop Local initiatives and the significant growth of tourism to our region – it is hard to give great service if you cannot maintain sufficient staff. Some businesses have been all but crippled by this – some have reduced hours and services which negatively impacts tourism and our local economy. Yet, there are unemployed and at-risk community members who need help gaining the confidence and training to get a job.

“The Retail and Customer Service Confidence Certificate Program is an excellent way to prepare students with the skills needed to thrive in the Customer Service, Recreation and Tourism sectors.  The skills and experiences that students will receive from this program will prepare them for employment opportunities in this fast-growing sector and help meet the needs of our local employers to find and retain top talent.  It’s a win-win for everyone,” said     Chris Callanan, President Port Hardy Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber is pleased to partner with North Island College, who designed the course after extensive consultation with the local retail business community to develop a customized program to meet the needs of employers and to develop the local labour force.

This innovative program covers all areas of providing excellent retail and customer service, and it also includes work experience with local employers. It has been carefully designed to allow students to build skills and work towards being the best service provider they can be. Emphasis is placed on personal management (including demonstrating positive attitudes and behaviours, being responsible, adaptable, and working safely), teamwork (including the ability to work with others) and fundamental skills (including the ability to manage information and use numbers).

The College will deliver the training over four separate cohorts of 12 students each, and liaise with businesses during the work experience portion to assist with monitoring progress. They will provide reporting on each cohort so the Chamber can track the success rate. The first session starts on May 13th and is fully subscribed, with 3 more cohorts planned over the next 18-20 months.

“We have been hearing loud and clear from our business community that they are struggling to find and retain staff. In particular skilled local workers for customer service type jobs. This puts a huge strain on the business to maintain standards and to put their best foot forward for their customers. On the other hand, we have eager people in our community who want to work, but lack confidence, skills, and experience to put themselves out there. We are so thrilled to have received this grant that provides so much for our community and its businesses,” said Elizabeth Aman-Hume, Executive Director of the Port Hardy Chamber of Commerce.

If your business is interested in offering a work experience, please contact the Chamber.

Chris Callanan is President of the Port Hardy Chamber of Commerce


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