Oxford County to hold ‘touch it, taste it, try it’ job fair

Article content

As the province faces a historic skilled trades shortage, Oxford County is taking measures to attract and retain workers. The Oxford County Career Expo will bring together job seekers and employers. Organizers hope the job fair will help address what they call a “chronic skill and labour shortage” by persuading those looking for work to remain in Oxford County. The county’s Work in Oxford platform encourages immigration and skilled newcomers along with engaging youth entering the workforce to work and live in the region.

Advertisement 2

Article content


Article content

More than 300 employers will be at the Oxford County Career Expo on March 21 at Woodstock’s fairgrounds.

The event will allow attendees to learn about job possibilities in many sectors.

Natalie Surridge, workforce and community director for Oxford County’s community employment services, is spearheading the event.

Surridge said the event is more interactive than a traditional job fair, and will take place in two parts.

The morning portion of the event is for Oxford County high school students. Surridge expects about 3,000 students will attend.

“Every booth is very experimental learning. So, it’s not just looking, they really get the hands on (to) try stuff,” she said.

The second part of the expo is open to everyone.


The job fair will feature employers from 15 to 18 sectors, including transportation and logistics, skilled trades, agriculture, retail, municipal employment and politics, business administration, construction and manufacturing.

“We want them exposed to all the possibilities so that they can make an informed decision,” said Jeff Surridge, chief executive of community employment services.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

Christine McClay owns Tirecraft, an automotive shop with locations throughout Southwestern Ontario, and will be looking for workers at the event.

McClay said her business has felt the labour shortage in the last “four or five years.”

She said she’s hired from job fairs in the past and found them to be an effective method of recruiting employees.

“It’s a great way for us to connect with people right on the spot,” McClay said.

Finding employees in the skilled trades has become difficult, and mechanics are “super hard to find,” she said.

“Tire techs, they’re not necessarily a desirable job, so it’s harder to find people, but they can be really rewarding careers, so I think, you know, this type of an event is great.”

McClay said she’s struggling to find workers across the region, not just in Oxford County.


Jeff Surridge said the labour shortage had been anticipated well before the COVID pandemic.

“I mean, 10 years ago, we knew looking at the demographics, we knew what was coming,” he said. “The boomers were exiting, and all the next generations weren’t having near enough kids to replace, so you could see what was going to happen with the labour market.”

Advertisement 4

Article content

Rafael Gomez, a professor at the University of Toronto and labour market expert, said demographics are a factor in the skilled worker shortage, but there also are other elements to explain the shortage.

There is less “generational handing-over of jobs,” he said.

Gomez also said there used to more “intergenerational job stability,” such as a parent getting a job for their child at their workplace.

Because the Oxford County Career Expo will allow people who attend an opportunity to learn about jobs they haven’t experienced, the event has potential to be a successful tool for employment recruitment.

Jeff Surridge said a hands-on “touch it, taste it, try it” approach, such as the expo where attendees can use simulators to see what it’s like to weld, are useful tools.

Gomez agreed and said often people need to be shown a pathway to their career.

Oxford County’s initiative to retain workers in the community also is key to addressing the labour shortage.

Gomez cited a statistic that about 14,000 workers younger than 35 left Ontario during the last two years, the most of any province.


What: Oxford County Career Expo.

When: March 21, 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for Oxford County high school students; 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. for public

Where: Woodstock fair grounds at 875 Nellis St.

To pre-register for the event visit http://cesoxford.ca

The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada

Recommended from Editorial

Article content

Latest news
Related news