CENTRAL OKANAGAN - With a pressing need for talent, the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission is trying to lure expatriates — defined as anyone who once lived, worked or went to school here — back to the valley with an on-going multi-faceted marketing campaign.
To fill projected employer demand, the Central Okanagan needs an additional 35,000 workers of all kinds by 2020 and if anyone shows such an interest, it’s part of Drew Vincent’s job with the commission to help make it happen.
“The biggest part of that is how are we going to be able to attract and retain young professionals,” Vincent says.
The initial focus of what is known unofficially as the 'boomerang campaign' is the alumni of both Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan.
“They’re the low hanging fruit. They are they easiest to contact and maintain communications with. We want to remind them of the region, let them know about the opportunities and let them know about okanaganjobmatch.com (the commission’s job matching platform launched in February)."
Vincent says it’s easy to get people to come to the Okanagan for a vacation but more difficult to get them to move their lives here, especially given the wage disparity between Kelowna and the larger centres.
“The biggest issue is connections. If people are well connected in the community, they typically don’t have challenges finding work,” he says. "I focus a lot of energy trying to make those connections happen. I’m constantly meeting employers who can’t find good people and people who can’t find good employers."
Vincent leads the Okanagan Young Professionals Collective and will be representing them as part of a local delegation, which also includes Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and Accelerate Okanagan CEO Raghwa Gopal, at the Toronto Animation Arts Festival International April 22.
Plans are for the Make Digital Media Here delegation to showcase the region’s lifestyle and opportunities, Vincent says.
“We’re going to have this star-studded cast onhand and it’s going to be a great opportuntiy to connect with people and find out their perceptions of the Okanagan and what they are looking for."
Vincent says the festival will also be the campaign's first significant foray into targeted marketing, trying to find talent for Kelowna’s fledgling animation industry.
“We’re trying to grow the animation industry to the point where we have enough animators. We have a serious deficiency of skilled talent in that pool right now,” he adds.
An evaluation will follow, Vincent says, with tentative plans to make similar forays to Vancouver and Calgary.
Vincent says the social media campaign will continue with the imminent release of promotional videos he says will be ready in time for the Toronto trip.
“We’re trying to highlight the differences in affordability, at least in some areas,” he says. “We don’t have the same pay equality as other cities.”
The videos follow the same theme as the Make It Here video released last year, but with a more specific career focus, Vincent says.
Credit: Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission
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