In response to the critical labour shortages facing many of Ontario’s key sectors, Niagara College and OTEC, in partnership with Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association (ORHMA), has announced an innovative youth-targeted employment model called the ALiGN Network.
Recently launched across Ontario, the initiative has brought together industry partners from across the province to develop a psychometric-based talent-to-role fit assessment and job-matching model designed initially for the hospitality and tourism industry.
The ALiGN pre-employment skills training program will be delivered at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus. Employers and community employment partners throughout the Niagara region can connect with Niagara College, or, directly with OTEC, to identify and recruit ALiGN graduates.
“Niagara College is pleased to work with OTEC and be a part of the ALiGN Network,” said Barbara Glass, associate dean, School of Access, Niagara College. “We are confident that ALiGN will assist us in connecting local employers to interested and motivated youth seeking entry level and high demand opportunities in the tourism industry across the Niagara region.”
The ALiGN network will be supported by Ryerson University’s Magnet platform to bring this first-of-its-kind youth employment model online, making ALiGN accessible to businesses and job seekers anywhere in Ontario. Through the ALiGN Network, youth will be matched to live job postings based on their own unique personality attributes and interests. Work-ready job seekers will be fast-tracked into employment. Candidates with skills or qualifications gaps based on the assessment process will receive industry-designed training and certification, either through the network of regional training partners, or, through an online suite of industry training programs that can be accessed remotely.
“The fact that our youth unemployment rate is over 14 per cent in this province while employers are struggling to fill entry-level positions demands that we start looking at things differently” said Adam Morrison, VP Projects and Partnerships, OTEC. “Businesses have been telling us for years that, if candidates are the right fit, they will hire them and train them for advancement. We now have a system that matches youth to real opportunities based on their unique attributes, attitudes and goals.”
Key industry partners include Magnet/Ryerson University, ORHMA, Mobilize Jobs, and a roster of prominent, independent and global brands. ORHMA which represents over 11,000 hospitality employers across the province has partnered with ALiGN. Since the assessment methodology is based on a behavioural and attitudinal benchmark established by industry, it will enable ALiGN’s employment and training partners to refer candidates to participating employers with confidence in the job seeker’s suitability for the position. It will also open up a new pool of potential candidates for employers: youth who might not have experience in the role, but are a natural fit for the work and the industry culture.
“The ALiGN Network will support their members and unemployed youth in the Niagara region,” said Tony Elenis, president, ORHMA. “By working with key industry stakeholders and partners, we will address the issues of youth underemployment and labour shortages in the hospitality industry, specifically in the Niagara region.”
Funded in part by the Government of Ontario, with support from the Ministry of Economic Development and Growth, the ALiGN project will represent a significant investment in hospitality training programming for four other regions including Toronto, Ottawa, Thunder Bay and Algoma, while also seeking to address the overall labour shortage Ontario is facing for front line hospitality roles.