StayNorth is bridging the gap between Northern Ontario employers and recent college graduates, proving there are good careers available across the region.
In September 2015, StayNorth launched within the Study North Initiative (SNI), as a retention initiative, to help recent and soon-to-be graduates, of the six Northern Ontario colleges, find full-time careers in Northern Ontario. Through collaboration and connections, StayNorth has more than doubled their goal of 25 students, over two years, within the first year and a half of the initiative, finding more than 60 graduates careers.
“There are jobs in Northern Ontario, but there is a gap between employers looking to hire and students looking for work” said Alex Rogerson of TWG Communications. When the project launched Rogerson visited workforce planning boards in each of the five major communities, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins, Sudbury and North Bay, she connected with many economic development officers and met with other stakeholders and employment resources.
Through these outreach initiatives, StayNorth gained an understanding the economic and employment opportunities in each community. Throughout the second year of the project Rogerson has expanded outside of the five major cities and worked to connect with many of the smaller communities that make up Northern Ontario, to learn about their employment opportunities. “Knowing who to talk to is half the battle” Rogerson explained. “We can’t be in every community all the time, so working with individuals who are connected within the community has been a key to the success of the program.”
These connections are spreading the word to other communities with economic development officers reaching out to StayNorth. It’s becoming clear that knowledge of the initiative is starting to spread and employers are connecting with StayNorth for help. “Everyone we have met with wants to work together; it’s all about connecting the right people to fill employment gaps. We know our connections want to see their cities and communities grow, we know that the students registered with StayNorth want to be in the North. By making an introduction and
working with employers, we are helping to bridge the gap between employers and recent graduates” said Rogerson.
As the initiative approaches its final semester of the pilot over 80 expected spring 2017 graduates have registered and the number is growing daily. StayNorth will continue to work with current registrants and new graduates, while breaking down employment barriers to connect individuals with careers in the North.
StayNorth is part of the Study North Initiative, which launched, with backing from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), in October 2014 as a cooperative undertaking of Northern Ontario’s six community colleges to market Northern Ontario schools to prospective students in Southern Ontario. The six Northern Ontario partner colleges include Confederation College, Thunder Bay; Sault College, Sault Ste. Marie; Collège Boréal, Sudbury; Cambrian College, Sudbury; Northern College, Timmins; Canadore College, North Bay.
To date, both the Study North (recruitment of GTA students) and StayNorth (retention of Northern Ontario graduates) have met and surpassed the project goals, positively contributing to Northern Ontario’s economy.