Over the past few months, in my new role with the North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce, I have met with many Chamber members and business owners who live, work, and play in our district. The common theme that is heard, is that how much they love North Bay and the area that they call home. Lakes, green space, safety and quality of life are familiar and popular reasons that pop up in conversations.
That is the positive side of the equation as to why we live here but the next logical question is: how do we attract, retain and provide the jobs for our next generation. All to often we hear of youth out migration and that there are no jobs for the unemployed or under employed. North Bay and Northern Ontario are not alone when it comes to this topic.
According to the latest Labour Market Group statistics for April of 2017, some 407 job postings remain unfilled. Not every one of these positions are going to be filled within our community as some are specialized and require certain skill sets and or professional designations for the positions. Who and where we work, are and have been changing and although lots has been said about the lack of drive and work ethic of the “Millennium Generation”, I beg to differ.
After meeting with many of our young professionals and young entrepreneurs in the past few months, I have a different view point than some of the critics of the new generation. These young and future leaders of our communities are getting involved and are getting vocal about breaking down barriers for new business creation in the North. They are and will be a force to contend with when it comes to looking at how we do business in our communities.
Gone are the days of isolation and protectionism. The world has become much smaller than when I was starting out in my career. The younger generations are looking at problems differently than the generation before. It is very relative to what our parents probably thought as we were leaving the nest some years ago. After talking to many of them, I am not hearing about the problems but rather the opportunities that are before them.
We as a business community in the North Bay and District could take a lesson from the next generation. Opportunities rather than problems, not a bad place to start the change of attitudes.
Peter Chirico is the President and CEO of the North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce.