Employment in the County is a complex and ever-changing situation.
The rapid rise of tourism has created a focus on hospitality type jobs.
The growth of wineries, breweries, distilleries, farm markets and other tourism-related small businesses has already created many agribusiness jobs.
Much of this growth is seasonal in nature.
The result is a serious shortage of summer season labour and not enough work in the winter. In the summer, we are net importers of labour from surrounding communities and even other countries for agricultural labour. The shortage of affordable housing is part of the problem and the next Council will have to continue to work on it.
3 new opportunities present themselves:
In my work as the Council member on the Visit the County Board, we have committed to promoting year round tourism - smoothing out the summer peak to provide employment in the industry throughout the year. Some tourism business are already adopting this model (Wander the Resort is one example). Year round business means year round employment.
The current Council changed bylaws to allow the building of employee housing on-site which will help deal with the housing shortage and long commutes.
The rapid increase in quality internet availability in the County is also facilitating remote working, making possible new kinds of business right here in the County.
As far as employment opportunities for local residents, for years we have seen young people leave Prince Edward County for careers in occupations that just aren’t available here. To some extent, the recent increase in employment in the arts, IT and media, and other small businesses has helped but we still need a longer term strategy and programs to make it possible and desirable for our children and potential newcomers to find fulfilling careers in the County.
We can also leverage our cultural and heritage assets with the Small Business Centre, Community Future Development organization and various BIAs to create innovative employment opportunities.