Attracting employees a common theme at IGNITE meeting
ADAM MACINNIS firstname.lastname@example.org @ngnews
When Wes Surrett recently took on the role of business continuity and workforce development manager at the Pictou County Regional Enterprise Network, he thought a lot of his job would be focused on job creation. He was wrong. What he’s found has been the biggest concern for businesses as he meets with them is finding people to fill existing jobs. “There are a lot of employers that have positions they can’t fill right now,” he said. “So the recruitment and the retention is a top priority from the folks I’ve talked to already now.” What Surrett has experienced was a common theme that came up at a recent Shore 2 Shore event hosted by Ignite in New Glasgow, titled Strengthening Rural Entrepreneurship. IGNITE held the event in collaboration with Navigate StartUp House in Cape Breton, Innovacorp, NSBI and ACOA. Speakers in three different locations – Yarmouth, Sydney and New Glasgow – spoke to a local audience in their respective area, but also virtually to the other locations. About 20 local entrepreneurs attended at each location. “The focus of this event was on attracting and retaining talent to rural Nova Scotia,” explained Jen MacKinnon, northern regional manager for IGNITE Atlantic. “Rural Nova Scotia often faces different challenges than an urban city like Halifax, so we wanted to bring entrepreneurs and business folks together to have that conversation about what are the challenges and how are we addressing it,” MacKinnon said. She said it’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. “Everybody has to take a unique approach,” she said. “But I think that the more we can have these conversations and work together to support and encourage, it helps bring people to towns like New Glasgow or Pictou County and keep them here.” She said a central theme of the event was the different opportunities there are now for people to work remotely, which means that employees have access to employers throughout the world. “You’re competing across the world essentially,” MacKinnon said. “More companies are having to up the ante and get creative in attracting people.” From his past work in tourism, Surrett has dealt with this challenge and now hopes to help apply what he’s learned over the years to help other companies. “I think it’s all about selling Pictou County as a great place to live and a great place to work and a great place to raise a family.” He believes that by supporting the businesses that are here and helping them succeed, others will want to also establish in the region.