Kempville – As the largest employer in the region, the Upper Canada District School Board was invited to attend and present at the 2018 Leeds Grenville Economic Development Summit, held in Kemptville on Friday, November 16.
Director of Education Stephen Sliwa took to podium alongside recent North Grenville District High School Graduate Grace Maher. The duo presented to the group of 200-plus business leaders and politicians about the need for collaboration between the school board and local businesses to ensure school programming meets the future needs of students and employers.
“The school board understands the difficulty of finding skilled labour, including employees with French language skills,” explained Sliwa. “We have a shared interest in being part of the discussion about fit, readiness and availability of skilled workers.”
Maher, currently a second-year business student, specializing in HR and Marketing at Trent University, spoke to the crowd about what it takes to attract workers of her generation to communities like Leeds Grenville. Job opportunities, cost of living and amenities are all equal factors that the incoming millennial and generation Z workforce are considering when they are looking to transition from school to the world of work.
“Businesses need to be able to offer the same opportunities as top employers in large cities do, such as flexible work arrangements, technology rich and open environments, and career opportunity with challenge, training, mobility and promotion,” she said. “We are looking for business and communities to make our priorities, your priorities.”
Claire Baker, a grade 12 student at Athens District High School echoed Maher’s comments. Though was unable to join Sliwa and Maher due to the inclement weather, her speaking notes were shared as part of the presentation to highlight student voice.
“We were happy to be invited to the summit today and use the opportunity to receive feedback about what it is businesses need, and to continue the dialogue of how we can plan and work together to strengthen Leeds & Grenville,” added Sliwa.