Northern Ontario’s economy is driven
by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); however, many aren’t
reaching their full potential. They face challenges relating to
recruiting, hiring, training and retaining a skilled workforce.
HR North, a new initiative for SMEs,
will address some of those issues.
“We have put together a support
centre (website) for the businesses that don’t have internal
capacity to work on recruitment and retention and beyond that,”
said Marla Tremblay, president of Markey Consulting.
HR North was spearheaded by the North
Bay Newcomer Network, and Tremblay has been working on the
development of the project. The website is expected to be launched in
The first phase of the initiative will
include a web-based tool that will enable SMEs to access a database
of job-ready people.
HR North has partnered with a number of
agencies who will upload their clients’ resume into the system.
They range from entry-level to skilled.
“Every single person that gets loaded
into the database has to be vetted first,” said Tremblay. “They
are pre-qualified. It’s not like the online sites where anyone can
put their resumes in.”
If an individual wishes to be included
in the database, he or she must first go through one of the community
partners which includes YES Employment, post secondary institutions,
district social services administration boards, or an immigration
“Job ready doesn’t just mean the
piece of paper but it includes the soft skills as well,” she said.
“There has to be some relationship between you and the agency. They
know you are job ready and are signing off on it.”
If clients claim to have graduated from
a program, they must produce the accompanying certification.
“It’s all about creating a credible
system for employers and putting the onus on individuals to get their
credentials organized and meeting the requirements,” Tremblay said.
An employer can then submit a job
posting and matches are made based on what they are looking for. The
search can be done by the employer, or by those running the site. The
employer does not know where the referral comes from.
“The proper management of human
capital is an essential part of any organization success. The HR
North program is a proactive response to the human resources needs of
the Northern Ontario business community and will be a welcomed
resource to any company but specifically those who have limited human
resources job functions,” said Jamie Klomp, president of the
Timmins and District Chapter of the Human Resources Professional
Clients can put in documents or
criminal checks and check off if they are eligible for wage subsidies
or an internship.
“It’s all these extra steps the
employer doesn’t have to do and they know that everything has been
vetted,” Tremblay said.
Employers can also click on icons on
client profiles that link to schools they have attended or companies
they have worked for.
On the client end, prospective
employees can utilize tools such as tips on resume writing and record
themselves doing practice interviews.
Initially HR North will cover an area
that stretches from Parry Sound to Hearst, and run along the Hwy. 11
“Long term, we see this as being on
its own and sustainable,” she said. “Right now Sudbury isn’t
part of it, but I do expect it will expand.”
A study conducted for the North Bay
Newcomer Network indicated that 98 per cent of employers in Northern
Ontario have fewer than 100 employers. More than 90 per cent of the
SMEs do not have dedicated on-site human resources support.
“Even the larger firms that do have
HR capacity are so busy, that areas like recruitment and retention
are not being done the way they should be,” Tremblay said. “We
are primarily for the SMEs but we will help the larger firms.”
Employers will pay a fee to access the
In the future, different services will
be available for companies, such as standard templates for HR
documents. Once it is launched, employer engagement will be ongoing
and marketing material will be developed.
“Right now there are a lot of
partners engaged in this and a lot have contributed dollars to this,”
“Communities and economic development
commissions see the value in this. A job-ready labour force is
essential and having this extra tool in your pocket when you have an
investor coming into town is also essential. They can go into the
database and see what is currently available.”