There is a global fight for talent and North America’s largest cities are on the front lines. Winnipeg is no exception.
Local companies have told us they are struggling with a shortage of skilled workers to unlock their growth and compete in dynamic global markets. Investment increasingly follows talent, further emphasizing the role a strong workforce plays in our city’s economic future. Winnipeg must compete aggressively, leveraging our competitive advantages to attract not just business, but also people. As a nimble and private sector driven organization, Economic Development Winnipeg and its business development team, YES! Winnipeg, are pivoting to make workforce development and talent attraction and retention a central part of what we do.
In the coming years, YES! Winnipeg and its partners will be working hard to ensure local companies have access to deep talent pools and know where to look to find and retain the right people. Our goal is to save local businesses time and money while enhancing the attractiveness of our city as an investment destination. To achieve this, we have established a dedicated talent team within YES! Winnipeg that will help companies attract and retain top talent in close collaboration with our partners.
A big-picture viewpoint
Businesses have emphasized their need for a coordinated approach and a one-stop-shop for businesses to access resources and guidance. As Winnipeg’s lead economic development agency, we are well positioned as the connection between all three levels of government, postsecondary institutions and the private sector.
The idea for our talent initiative was inspired by consultations with more than 200 local business leaders, as well as observations made by Ryan Kuffner, Economic Development Winnipeg’s Vice President of Sales & Business Development. While living abroad, he and other Winnipeg ex-pats often discussed their desire to move home if the right positions became available. When he joined Economic Development Winnipeg, he heard businesses lament the lack of qualified talent to fill available positions. A made-in-Winnipeg strategy was born to connect the dots. It draws inspiration from several award-winning initiatives across North America, such as Montreal International, Homesick Philly (Philadelphia) and Make It MSP (Minneapolis-St. Paul) that find innovative ways to attract new talent and bring former residents home. We believe our cross-cutting approach will benefit Winnipeg’s economy as a whole and help assure potential investors they can secure the talent they need in Winnipeg.
A dedicated team
YES! Winnipeg has created a new, dedicated team to help companies attract and retain the right talent. The team brings a wealth of experience to our operation and will be led by Yvonne Kinley, Director of Talent & Workforce Development, and supported by Corinne Gusnoski, Business Development Coordinator, and recently-hired Vanesa Cotlar, Business Development Manager. They will provide advice, support, tools and resources to meet a client’s specific needs.
What will the Winnipeg Talent Hub do?
» Analyze gaps To inform the talent team’s work, we first need to understand Winnipeg’s talent and skills gaps. We have engaged a qualified consultant who will undertake a comprehensive gap analysis of business talent now and in the short- and medium-term future.
» Inventory resources We know there are many resources in Winnipeg to find information on current talent needs and trends. Our goal is to bring them together in one place. YES! Winnipeg will conduct an environmental scan to inventory what our partners in this jurisdiction are doing to attract, retain and develop talent for business and how they are focusing their activity in the space. Once our talent ecosystem is understood, we will share the information across our partnerships to minimize duplication, maximize collaboration and provide a resource map for business. With the support of the City of Winnipeg, Province of Manitoba and federal and provincial immigration programs, as well as major private sector employers, YES! Winnipeg will become a key repository of talent resources.
» Identify channels We will research and build the relationships required to identify and understand the full suite of local, national and international talent channels available to local businesses. This map and the accompanying advice from the YES! Winnipeg talent team will help connect companies to talent quickly and effectively. Channels will include various software-driven platforms, labour market impact exempt programs, unique post-secondary offerings, for- and non-profit organizations and accelerated options for skilled immigrants. In our experience, most companies recruit talent from a maximum of one to three talent channels and may not realize all the options available to them. They also don’t have the time to analyze and determine which channels best fit their needs. By doing this work on their behalf, we’ll save local businesses significant time and money while helping them grow. We also want to increase employment opportunities for underrepresented groups, such as women, youth, Indigenous Manitobans, Franco-Manitobans and new Canadians.
» Align education and industry To develop the right talent for local employers, we need to ensure post-secondary programming is meeting industry needs. Together, we will work with government, education institutions and partners such as the Business Council of Manitoba, who is already doing valuable work in this area. Two areas we’ll focus on will be co-op student programs and international student recruitment.
» Create a talent toolkit for business Manitoba businesses are experts at selling their company and job opportunities to talent, but they can struggle to sell Winnipeg. That’s where we come in. Our in-house Marketing and Branding and Market Intelligence teams will work with the talent team to compile a toolkit of resources and assets to help Winnipeg companies compete for skilled workers on a global stage. Compelling marketing materials like high-quality videos, tailored images and data will showcase Winnipeg’s superior quality of life and competitive advantages.
» Conduct international talent recruitment missions Recruiting senior-level employees is a challenge, and our companies are often forced to look out of market for the right people. It can be daunting for individual companies to identify and attract top foreign talent that meets their organization’s needs. YES! Winnipeg will leverage best practices from other Canadian jurisdictions and plan international talent recruitment missions to key markets where we know specific talent pools are available and where potential candidates may find life in Canada an attractive option. The Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program makes it easy for skilled workers to settle here as permanent residents and we will continue to work with the province to take advantage of this successful program. Winnipeg is a multicultural city that is well-positioned to welcome top talent from other places. But we need to be proactive to attract and retain the best people. We’ll take the lead on mission logistics to save companies time and resources. Our team will promote the mission to in-market candidates, recruit Winnipeg companies to participate, gather applications and coordinate job fairs and interviews. Your job is to find the best candidate for your role. Our job is to do the rest.
» Welcome talent home Manitoba produces high-quality graduates, but over the years many have left to pursue careers in other markets. Their quality of life may take a hit in Canada’s larger cities; long commute times and expensive housing make it hard to thrive, especially for young families. Winnipeg’s competitive advantages in these areas build a compelling case for former residents to move home. We will use proactive marketing campaigns, technology platforms and partnerships with post-secondary alumni networks to recruit these experienced professionals back home to fill senior positions in key sectors.
Investments in our economic future
We estimate the talent strategy will cost $1.8 million over three years, which includes funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada, the Manitoba Government and the City of Winnipeg, as well as Economic Development Winnipeg and industry investment. Throughout the process, we will solicit feedback from industry and partners to measure the strategy’s success. YES! Winnipeg is positioning our city and our companies to win the increasingly competitive global battle to attract and retain talent.
Learn more about YES! Winnipeg and our latest initiatives in the 2020 edition of The Winnipeg Investor magazine.