The Portage Regional Economic Development (PRED) office is partnering with Portage Collegiate and the Portage Learning and Literacy Centre on a new workforce development program. The objective of the three-year pilot is to create an increased awareness of career opportunities that exist right here in the community, and also enlighten the emerging workforce about the skills and abilities required to capitalize on those opportunities.
“Sure, announcing that we have 150 new jobs coming to the region is exciting but unless we can fill those positions, we won’t realize the full advantage of this growth”, says Vern May, Executive Director for PRED. “It’s important that we are reaching out to those individuals who will be entering the workforce to illustrate the opportunities that exist here.”
PRED has committed financial support for workforce development and is partnering with both Portage Collegiate and the Portage Learning and Literacy Centre to introduce an innovative approach to bringing together the interests of the emerging workforce with the current and future needs of local business and industry.
The program is called Edge Factor and has been launched successfully in other regions across North America. The Ontario-based platform helps students and their parents to identify their passion and see how that aligns with the career opportunities that are available for organizations such as McCain, Simplot, Roquette, Southern Health and other local employers. This platform also helps the local business sector to better target their recruitment efforts, identifying not only the positions that they need to fill, but also the core competencies required for those roles.
“In many cases, in rural Manitoba, we lose our youth to the larger cities because they truly aren’t aware of the career opportunities that are available to them here”, says May. “This platform allows us to close the loop and ensure that we are connecting the dots for everyone that has a stake in the economic future of Portage la Prairie.”
The platform will be rolled out through the Grade nine Career Development program at PCI and will be incorporated into the adult education and employment programs at PLLC. It is anticipated that over the course of the three-year pilot of the program, the investment will benefit more than 800 students between both institutions.
“A major focus of the PCI Grade 9 Career Development pilot is career exploration and in particular – career opportunities within Portage la Prairie”, says Blair Hordeski, Career Development Coordinator with the Portage la Prairie School Division. “We are excited about Edge Factor and its merit as a tool to help ensure that students are aware of careers available in our community.”
“We see great value in the ‘soft skills’ component of the Edge Factor Program”, says Cathy Dowd, Program Director at PLLC. “It is very important that our students and clients have the opportunity to gain the skills necessary to be successful in the workforce as well as increase their technical skills. This program will complement courses we teach such as Career Development and Human Relations, and will be a huge asset to our youth participants in our Portage Work Experience Program.”
A short overview of the program:
For more information on the Edge Factor initiative, inquiries can be directed to the PRED office.
Ensuring that the Portage la Prairie region is ready and responsive to the needs of industry, we are actively exploring how best to tackle the infrastructure needs of new development in a manner which allows us to be “shovel ready”.
Historically, many jurisdictions have operated with a strict policy which identifies that the developer assumes all costs associated with greenfield investment. However, as the world becomes more competitive and Manitoba vies to improve its visibility and success related to investment attraction, at a local level, we are also looking at what steps we can take to ensure we are putting the best foot forward for our new partners in business – and that our participation reflects our investment in their success.
There are no easy answers when it comes to municipal infrastructure. The increasing costs of installation and ensuring that what is installed will fully meet the immediate needs and is also scalable to future growth is an important consideration. However, we continue to work internally as well as with investment partners to arrive at solutions which create a foundation for mutual success.
It’s quite possible that Portage la Prairie is one of the Province’s most chronically under-rated destinations for tourism in southern Manitoba. Often considered to be too close to Winnipeg to have a strong tourism appeal on its own, the area is rich with sports and recreation amenities, bountiful in historical sites and important heritage milestones, alive with an inspiring pulse of arts and culture, and is celebrated for our outdoor experiences as well. We are working to ensure that new visitors get to know all of that about us and remind old friends why they should come back for a visit.
In 2017, we partnered with Travel Manitoba as one of the first communities to adopt the agency’s new “place branding” for our community and we are pleased to introduce everyone to Portage la Prairie – “Island on the Prairies”. This new community identity has helped to unify a number of committees and organizations to recognize the value of partnership and collaboration internally to broaden the scope of our marketing and ensure better coordination of our respective efforts. We are thankful to Travel Manitoba for bringing the idea forward and helping us to create a brand that the community has rallied behind and which will propel us to new heights in the coming years.
2018 will see a complete re-imagining of how we market visitor experiences in Portage la Prairie and we encourage you to take a look yourself.