ONB & ESJ teaming up to help businesses grow their workforce

Doubling Efforts to Grow our Workforce

When a company is looking to fill positions, they often turn to HR professionals, job sites and their network. But, they’re also turning to two important resources through Opportunities New Brunswick and Enterprise Saint John.

Julia Udalych was recently hired as Enterprise Saint John’s Workforce & Retention Officer. She has more than 15 years in Human Resources, working with International companies including Deloitte, British Council and Baker & McKenzie.

“Other than working in Human Resources for many years, I also used to own and manage a recruitment agency in Eastern Europe for five years before coming to Canada. I was sourcing talent from around the world for my clients – companies working in finance, ICT, private equity, retail and business consulting. Now, I hope to utilize my network for the benefit of growing Saint John and the region,” says Udalych.

She’s working closely with Theresa Phillips, a Workforce Strategist with Opportunities New Brunswick with more than 20 years’ experience in Human Resources. Phillips has worked in remote Northern communities across Canada, with private sector companies such as J.D. Irving Ltd. and within the Anglophone South School District as a School to Work Transition Coordinator.  She’s using that experience to connect ONB clients to programs, services and partners as well as support their recruitment efforts.

“Too often, New Brunswickers do not tout our accomplishments and all the opportunities available for our youth to study, work, innovate and live right here at home.  We are starting to change the dialogue in this province. You do not need to leave your home province to have a great career,” says Phillips.

The challenge for both women is not the lack of jobs because at any given time, there are thousands of jobs posted on nbjobs.ca and other job sites. The issue for the last few years has been connecting companies to qualified candidates for multiple openings.

Both work with municipal and provincial partners like the province’s Post-Secondary Education Training & Labour (PETL) to create more awareness of training and programs available for employers and support job fairs targeting locals and newcomers with specialized skill sets. ONB recently launched onbconnects.ca meant to match community leaders, civil servants, and professionals (Connectors) with job ready locals, newcomers and international post-secondary graduates (Connectees) to build a professional network and connect with the local labour market.

ESJ recently set up a networking LinkedIn group, ‘Saint John Talent’ to also connect employers, job seekers and discuss successes and challenges. A recent recruitment mission to Toronto in April is starting to show some promise, but it does take a little longer for newcomers.

“We met a lot of skilled candidates who were willing to move to Saint John. The first thing they want to know is how easy it is to find a job here. The challenge we have with our closely-knit community is that the job opportunities are often passed around to people within a tight network. The outsiders who are not part of the network are having a tougher time getting interviews even if they have the right skill set for it, so we need to work on connecting them better” says Udalych, who moved here from Ukraine and struggled to find a job for the first 6 months she lived here.

Both Enterprise Saint John and Opportunities NB have begun to identify ways in which they can improve partnerships with educational institutions, streamline processes and develop common strategies to provide greater value to new and existing businesses, while helping them find the talent they need.

Originally published in the Saint John Telegraph Journal, Monday, May 28th.