In 2019, the Sarnia Lambton Workforce Development Board (SLWDB) celebrates 22 years serving Lambton County. The organization began as the Sarnia Lambton Training Board in 1997 with an office located at 112 Christina Street South. In 2007 the organization instituted a new name in order to more clearly identify its role.

SLWDB’s mission is to identify needs and facilitate solutions to attract, train and retain a viable workforce through community partnerships. They work towards this goal in a number of ways. They share local statistics on employment and the labour market. “Anyone can request local employment numbers or census data at no cost, which can be extremely helpful for grant writing and business planning purposes,” explains Executive Director Laura Greaves. They also connect with a variety of community stakeholders to better understand the local issues and support local solutions. They are one of Workforce Planning Ontario’s 26 member organizations and one of nine members of Workforce Planning West. “We meet regularly with the leaders of the other workforce boards so that we can identify province-wide trends and share best practices.”

Each year they work on several projects which are funded in part by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario. Some are long-running projects that are updated each year, while others identify new issues. They have been running the EmployerOne Survey every January since 2014. “We ask employers to tell us about attracting and retaining staff in the prior year as well as what their plans are in the coming year. The results give us a better understanding of what employers are looking for.” In 2019, 208 businesses completed the survey and in 2020 they are aiming to have 233 businesses provide input. “The results of the survey often help us identify gaps in the community and plan for future research projects. In past years, succession planning has been identified as an area that business owners have not focused on, so we look forward to working with them on that in the near future.”

They also put together a comprehensive picture of the local labour market annually for job seekers, service providers, employers and others. “Our Local Labour Market Plan is an in-depth annual report on our community. We incorporate statistics from a number of sources as well as anecdotal evidence from our one-on-one meetings with local employers. It is an excellent resource for anyone who would like to know more about our community.” This year they are also working on a project related to the skilled trades. “Our goal was to connect with at least 100 local business and organization leaders and discuss with them their experiences with apprentices and the apprenticeship program, and more generally with tradespeople in our community.” They are also offering soft skills training for managers. “We have heard from employers and job seekers that they would like to see this type of training offered locally and we are happy to be able to provide it.”