ECONOMIC UPDATE: Discussion highlights need to attract and retain talented staff

NANAIMO – Vancouver Island University represents a wealth of fresh talent.

By Sasha Angus

The Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation recently met with a group of professional, scientific and technical sector leaders in the region as part of the ongoing program Nanaimo Business Counts. Each month, NEDC hosts 12-15 business owners grouped by industry sector to discuss general business issues, as well as a subject focus-specific to each group. This is a Business Retention and Expansion program that seeks to pinpoint the needs of local companies in the community, as well as to provide a peer learning environment allowing business owners to benefit from shared experience.

This facilitated discussion centred on the topic of attraction and retention of highly talented staff, and the dynamics of developing ‘homegrown’ versus bringing in talent from outside the community, region, province, etc. Participants in the discussion included business owners and managers representing companies in information technology, environmental consulting, employment services, marine research, structural engineering, financial advisory, software and web development, and more.

Several noteworthy themes emerged. A consensus amongst the participants was that Vancouver Island University represents an immense wealth of fresh talent that we are fortunate to have at our disposal right here in Nanaimo. Almost two-thirds of Nanaimo’s population aged 25-64 have a post-secondary education, ranking the region in the top two communities among similar-sized B.C. cities. The mix of credentials in Nanaimo reflects both the local labour market and the program offerings at Vancouver Island University.  VIU continues to provide a pool of talented and ambitious individuals that are regularly hired by local companies.

Supporting Employment Transitions is a Work B.C. Employment Services Centre here in Nanaimo. An excellent yet underutilized resource it offers is the Wage Subsidy Work Experience Placement Program. This program provides financial reimbursement to an employer as incentive to hire and provide work experience and skills enhancement to eligible job seekers. For more on the program, please visit

As demographics change, it is ever-paramount to attract and retain young and talented minds in the Nanaimo region. This is a vital leg of any strategy to further economic prosperity, and is a prime indicator of the health and vibrancy of a community.To provide feedback on how your company is encouraging young talent, e-mail us at

Sasha Angus is CEO of Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation.