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County workforce partners bring on the HEAT

Those who have a passion for tourism and hospitality have an opportunity to learn
skills they need.

HEAT, or Helping Employers Acquire Talent, is an innovative labour market improvement project being undertaken by the County Workforce Partnership – a coalition of local employers, the Prince Edward County Chamber of Tourism and Commerce, municipality of Prince Edward County, Prince Edward Learning Centre and Career Edge.

There are currently 81 hospitality and tourism jobs listed with Career Edge, said Katy Mitchell, Employment Services Co-ordinator with the agency. “This program aims to close the skills gap and help both employees and employers through job coaching and training.”

“We believe strongly that by helping the hospitality and tourism sector in Prince Edward County we are helping the entire community. Through this program we will provide a wrap-around approach that recognizes that employers are business owners with their own aspirations besides that of being an employer of people,” Mitchell said. “We will be demonstrating that we have a shared stake in the hospitality and tourism sector’s vitality. It’s a virtuous circle – contributing to thriving sectors generates opportunities for skilled people who can continually learn and advance.”

After extensive research, and with funding from SkillsAdvance Ontario, the County Workforce Partnership is committed to training in tourism and hospitality – seen as drivers of the local economy.

Trevor Crowe, Prince Edward County’s Community Development Co-ordinator, said
the project will focus on wineries, breweries, restaurants, tourist attractions and

“The County Workforce Partnership heard from sector employers that they struggle to hire and retain staff season to season and local potential employees sometimes lack soft and technical skills. Some small businesses also said they feel they don’t have the time or capacity to train
staff and need to have ready-to-work staff hit the ground running,” Crowe said.

HEAT is designed to benefit employers by providing flexible and unique training and “work-ready” staff to help with employee retention and support for employees with the cost of items such as uniforms, safety equipment, transportation and temporary child care.

Employers can be involved by providing feedback on how the program works, referring applicants and incumbent staff for training, hosting experiential training sessions, being a guest speaker, and taking on trainees.

“It is integral to the success of the program that employers be excited and committed to the project from the outset,” said Mitchell. “They will play a crucial role in providing the framework we will use to build the curriculum. We plan to make this program as much about developing the employer’s capacity as it is about developing a highly skilled hospitality workforce.”

Emily Cowan, Executive Director of the PEC Chamber of Commerce, said the main issue facing members is workforce retention and attraction.

“There are many job openings and not enough employees with the right skills to fill them. We are working towards creating a pool of workers who are motivated and ready to embark on a career path in the hospitality and tourism industry,” she said. “Ideally, if this program is a success, we could roll it out to other industries who are also struggling with workforce attraction and retention.”

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