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Regional Economic Development Boards in Southern Labrador

by Joshua Fleming
Labrador is approximately 294,000 square kilometres with a population of 26,364. As hydroelectric and mineral resource extraction initiatives are underway in this sparsely populated region, firms are identifying challenges pertaining to recruitment and skills development. Regional Economic Development Boards play a key role in building and strengthening the local workforce.

A Website to Attract Newcomers

With the cooperation of the provincial government, the Labrador Straits Development Corporation (LSDC) and the Southeastern Aurora Development Corporation are attracting newcomers to southern Labrador and aiding them in their transition. The Southern Labrador website, southernlabrador.ca, is a pilot project that provides newcomers with the information they need to aid them in their settlement.

The website is also helping businesses in Southern Labrador by providing them with the information they need to complement their recruiting efforts. Stelman Flynn, owner of Seaview Restaurant and Cabins in Forteau, Labrador, says the website is a great tool for local business owners who face challenges associated with attracting and retaining qualified workers.

“I think this really presents us an opportunity to bring people to these rural communities and to re-generate some of our communities,” says Flynn. “When we approach this on a co-operative basis, it is a great benefit to the business community.”

Distance Education Makes Training an Option

The southern Labrador economic development boards are also helping to train workers to meet increasing job demands. Although no training facilities are situated in Southern Labrador, the Regional Economic Development Boards have worked to make online training available to both newcomers and established residents.

In cooperation with Memorial University, the LSDC has facilitated two lifelong learning courses towards a certificate in human resources. The initial stages of the partnership have been deemed successful with the enrolment of ten participants from the region engaged in the distance education initiative. Due to the absence of a training facility in the region, the development corporation was able to provide the training through the Internet and WebEx conferencing solutions.

A Cultural Project for Older Workers

The LSDC is also engaged in the Coastal Heritage Experience Project with SmartLabrador, which collected and digitized folklore assets in the region, such as stories and songs. The project became a targeted initiative for older workers and technical training sessions were offered to train the workers in digital recording, database management, media management software and video camera use.

Through initiatives that engage older workers, attract newcomers, and train workers, the Labrador Straits Development Corporation is building a healthy workforce that will support the increasing demands of local industry. The LSDC is working with Labradoreans to create and generate employment and secure a future for workers and their families.

Joshua Fleming holds a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Regina and is currently working for the Newfoundland and Labrador Regional Economic Development Association (NLREDA) as a policy analyst. NLREDA represents Newfoundland and Labrador’s 19 Regional Economic Development boards on issues of common interest.

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