Bulkley-Nechako Workforce Opportunities Table

Project Description

Stage one – Development of the Report
This project was initiated because many communities struggle with high unemployment while companies are having difficulty in finding workers with the right skills.  To address this dilemma it was important to understand why.  To understand the dynamics of the regional labour supply and demand the RDBN spear headed the Regional Skills Gap Analysis Project in order to develop strategies that will address the regional skills gap.
The Regional Skills Gap Analysis project engaged local residents, educational and training professionals, employers and First Nations organizations to assist in identifying the labour market challenges that exist in the region.

Stage two – Implementation of the Report
The final report was adopted by the RDBN Board of Directors on January 23, 2014.  The next steps will involve the following:

  1. Launch Event to introduce stakeholders and community members to the report
  2. Creation of a Strategic Workforce Opportunities Team 


Project Summary

Bridging the Regional Skills Gap – Implementation of Strategic Goals


  • Co-Chair - Brad McRobert
  • Co-Chair - Dave Christie
  • Secretary - Tammy Lyell
  • Secretary - RDBN Representative - Corrine Swenson
  • Advocacy Sub Committee Chair - Vacant
  • Promotion Subcommittee Chair - Val Anderson
  • Workforce and Skills Training Sub Committee Chair - Nicole Neufeld

SWOT Members




Val Anderson Municipal Economic Development Village of Burns Lake
Crystal Bouchard Post Secondary Education Industry Training Authority BC (ITA)
Dave Christie Municipal Economic Development Village of Fraser Lake
Ellen Lorentz First Nations Economic Development Burns Lake Band
Kiel Giddens Industry Sector - Energy TransCanada, Coastal GasLink Pipeline Project
Cheryl LaRocque First Nations Education and Training Prince George Nechako Aboriginal Employment and Training Association
Lindsey Larsen Regional Economic Development Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako
Tammy Lyell Community Futures Community Futures Stuart-Nechako
Eugene Marks Education School District #91
Kim Martinsen Community Futures Community Futures Nadina
Mike McDiarmid Education School District #54
Brad McRobert Province of BC Ministry of Jobs, Tourism & Skills Training
Nicole Neufed Post-Secondary Education University of Northern BC
Rob Newell Local Government Electoral Area G (Houston Rural)
John Nooski First Nations Agency Burns Lake Native Development Corporation
Lianne Olson Industry Sector - Energy RioTinto
Regina Saimoto Post-Secondary Education Northwest Community College - Smithers & Houston
Rosemary Edgeworth Employment Sector Progressive Employment Services Ltd
Corrine Swenson Regional Economic Development Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako
Lynn Synotte Post Secondary Education College of New Caledonia - Burns Lake
Darlene Turner Agriculture Little Valley Farms
Kelley Williams Municipal Economic Development District of Fort St James


Terms of Reference

Approved: March 23, 2015 


The Committee reflects broad-based community leadership committed to, and advocating for, a skilled and resilient labour pool that is best positioned to meet local labour demand. 

SWOT members will provide a vision for the Bulkley-Nechako, achieved through strategic implementation of priority actions that address key challenge areas.


To provide strategic direction, guidance and leadership for implementation of the Regional Skills Gap Analysis Recommendations


Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako is a regional, neutral body that will function in a facilitative role, providing an avenue for funding applications, and offering supervision of a SWOT Coordinator.



The SWOT will operate with Co-Chairs, one of which will be representative of industry.

Decision making will be by consensus.

An Executive Committee will be formed to ensure efficient response to regular business. It is preferred executive members be from different communities across the region. Positions will include:

  • Co-Chairs (2)
  • Secretaries (2)
  • Treasurer

The Executive Committee members will be nominated by SWOT members and determined by consensus.

Subcommittees: formed to implement recommendations of the Regional Skills Gap Analysis. Subcommittees should include two members of the SWOT and a minimum one member will serve as chair of the subcommittee. Where existing entities are meeting in the region to advance a similar initiative, the members of SWOT will reach out to participate with that organization.  

Any member may suggest changes to the terms of reference at any time.  Changes will be made after discussion at a regularly scheduled SWOT meeting. Terms of reference will be reviewed annually by the committee.


  • Task Focused
  • Respect
  • Openness
  • Integrity
  • Generosity
  • Flexibility
  • Confidentiality
  • Consensus based
  • Cooperative


Consistent with the Vision, the Committee will:

  • support and advance implementation of recommendations within the Regional Skills Gap Analysis
  • recommend priorities based on significant changes and influences impacting the region

ensure open communication with relevant stakeholders and ‘communities of practice’  - a group of organizations/individuals that share a common concern, and seek to improve  the situation  through shared learning

  • inform an Annual Report Card that captures status of activities within the Regional Skills Gap Analysis – this is then shared broadly
  • consider opportunities that have partial or complete reach across the regional district; this approach will support learning and best practice identification that can be then more broadly applied, for the betterment of the region as a whole




  • Promote SWOT as a regional working group with a mandate to strengthen the region’s response to workforce planning and labour market development.

Share insights, leadership, and perspectives to advance strategy recommendations.

Members are each responsible to ensure other stakeholders from their sector are informed of SWOT activities.

  • Encourage engagement of others with a common interest to support recommendation implementation
  • Support relevant funding opportunities (letters of support, linking potential funding partners, etc.)
  • Members will be responsible for their time and travel expenses to attend meetings

Participate on bi-monthly conference calls and two annual face to face meetings, or as required.





Representatives will be selected from but not limited to the following sectors:

  • Industry
  • Manufacturing, Mining, Forestry, Agriculture, Tourism, Energy
  • Education
  • Post-Secondary Education
  • First Nations Education and Training
  • Independent Business
  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Community Futures
  • First Nations Communities
  • Local Government
  • Economic Development
  • Employment
  • Province of BC
  • Public Libraries
  • Labour Unions

Membership will include 25-35 members.        

Members may appoint an alternate, if required. Both members are to remain informed through meeting notes following each meeting. If a member misses 50% of SWOT meetings in a calendar, without regrets being received, and no alternate in attendance, that committee member will be asked to step down.


Members will remain on SWOT for a period of 2 years, with the option to stand for an additional 2 years.

New membership is sought by the committee through their networks and an open invitation shared with key stakeholder groups from across the region.


  • Conference Calls  – to be held bi-monthly and as required
  • In person –-2 meetings annually at a central location
  • Email – ongoing as required



Agendas will be set by the Executive and sent out one week prior to meeting

Meetings will be facilitated by a Co-Chair

Minutes will be taken and distributed within a week following a meeting

In absence of a SWOT Coordinator, Agendas and Minutes will be drafted and distributed by SWOT Secretaries


Final Report

View and Download Final Report as a PDF - DOWNLOAD

Recommended Goals and Strategic Actions

Goal Statement: Regional and local assets and quality of life strengthen capacity to attract and retain talent

Strategy #1: Promote the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako as an opportune and welcoming employment destination

Recommended Actions

Potential Partners


Document and promote community and regional assets to increase awareness of lifestyle benefits and quality of life attributes.

Chambers of Commerce, RDBN, Municipalities

Short term

Initiate a social media strategy that profiles local employment opportunities and showcases business success stories. Monitor and communicate changes in new business start-ups, by number of businesses, growth, sector, and generated revenues and employment (aggregated) to demonstrate RDBN as an entrepreneurial climate.

Chambers of Commerce, CFDCs, Burns Lake Native Development Corporation (BLNDC), Municipalities

Short to medium term

Review ongoing initiatives to create a regional job bank that promotes employment opportunities in a centralized manner and ensure that the proposed or active models are fully used by the region’s business community and facilitate dual career family employment barriers for families looking to relocate to the region.


Medium term


Strategy #2: Support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to address human resource needs and future planning

Recommended Actions

Potential Partners


Support ongoing initiatives to inform small business on succession planning strategies and practices, providing tools and resources to facilitate linkages between seller and purchaser.

CFDCs, Chambers of Commerce, (Venture Connect)

Short to medium term

Create and make available a comprehensive resource for businesses regarding training programs and employer incentives that support experiential learning for students and new hires, ongoing professional development for staff and other training.

Employment Agencies, Chambers of Commerce, CNC, NWCC, Industry

Medium term

Engage with industries proactively to identify existing and emerging professional development/training needs for staff and link with the appropriate methods of delivery (contract training, tutoring, continuing education, Mooc – Massive Open Online Courses, etc.).
Contact North is an example of a remote training model that combine computer labs with support staff in rural regions to deliver online courses in northern Ontario.

CNC, NWCC, Learn Now B.C., SD54, SD91, PGNAETA

Short term and ongoing

Support workshop development and delivery that introduces the business community to new thinking and accessibility practices to strengthen talent attraction, retention, engagement and productivity – particularly for groups that were reported to face specific challenges in seeking and maintaining employment, such as people with disabilities, youth, new Canadians and others.

CNC, NWCC, CFDCs, Chambers of Commerce, PGNAETA

Medium term


Goal Statement: Ensure that the labour force is skilled, resilient and aligned with local labour market needs, supporting retention, partipation and economic development

Strategy #1: Prepare local labour force through career engagement, learning and skills development

Recommended Actions

Potential Partners


Support access to ongoing professional development and shorter-term targeted programs that increase opportunities for individual life-long learning, life skills, and career readiness.

CFDCs, Employment Agencies, United Steel Workers (Northern Skills Training),

Medium term

Promote longer-term career planning through development of a business case targeting those that did not complete high school, to validate long term benefits of high school and post-secondary completion.

Employment Agencies

Medium term

Encourage entrepreneurship skills and opportunities through mentorship and education, using a program such as that innovated by the Medicine Hat College Entrepreneur Development Centre.

CNC, NWCC, CFDCs, Employment Agencies

Short term

Investigate continuing education courses with a focus on high demand business opportunities such as agricultural management, perhaps by partnering with other B.C. institutions.
Create learning pathway for individuals looking to enter into the agriculture sector as farm owners/managers – curriculum delivery needs to be flexible and part-time to support access and participation.

CNC, NWCC, Beyond the Market

Medium term

Encourage more structured information-sharing between training institutions and the business community to strengthen program alignment and skills demand and to promote opportunities for corporate support for capital investment or access to technology, equipment, to strengthen program curriculum.

CNC. NWCC, Chambers of Commerce, CFDCs

Medium term


Strategy #2: Empower youth through increased career awareness and experiential learning opportunities, supported by the business community

Recommended Actions

Potential Partners


Encourage local businesses to participate in college and university internship and support programs throughout BC as a means of attracting educated talent to the area.

Chambers of Commerce, B.C. Post-Secondary Institutions

Short term and ongoing

Create direct interaction opportunities between pending graduates and local employers as a means of retaining graduating talent, and inventory existing programs to support working experiences for youth (Mentor me, Bladerunners, cooperative education, practicum).

CNC, NWCC, Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Employment Agencies,

Short term and ongoing

Work collaboratively with secondary and post-secondary institutions to develop career profiles and pathways to employment, for occupations experiencing labour force gaps, such as the certified trades.

SD54, SD91, CNC, NWCC, Trade Unions

Short term


Goal Statement: Increase collaboration between and among key stakeholder groups and communities to strengthen opportunities and impact at both the local and regional levels

Strategy #1: Foster a culture of collaboration between and among stakeholder groups and communities

Recommended Actions

Potential Partners


Introduce the findings of the Regional Skills Gap Analysis to communities and stakeholders and launch the implementation of recommendations.
A launch event is hosted by RDBN to present the strategy to the communities and organizations involved in workforce development.
Distribute the strategy widely with a power point presentation and fact sheet to be shared by email and on the RDBN website. Visit stakeholders in person to solidify involvement as needed.

Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, Regional Skills Gap Analysis Project Management Committee

Short term

Create a SWOT (Strategic Workforce Opportunities Team) with representatives from partner organizations centered on the collaborative implementation of the Regional Skills Gap Analysis, including new initiatives and the alignment of existing supports to advance opportunities.
A quarterly meeting of this group with a rotating location (in addition to the bi-annual forum proposed below) is recommended. Partner organizations support involvement through in-kind contributions of staff time and travel expenses.

Post-Secondary Institutions, Chambers of Commerce, First Nations, Employment Service Providers, RDBN

Short term and ongoing

Convene bi-annual forum with economic development, employment offices, chambers and other intermediary groups, and post-secondary and training institutions to evaluate skill and occupation needs in the region; promote awareness of ongoing services and initiatives; create a neutral space for information sharing and promote regional collaboration. Synergies can be sought with the existing annual business forum.

SWOT, First Nations, CNC, NWCC, Chambers of Commerce, RDBN

Short term and ongoing


Strategy #2: Embrace cultural diversity and recognize it as a competitive advantage

Recommended Actions

Potential Partners


Work with existing industry based First Nation liasons to increase engagement in all activities.

Industry based First Nation liasons

Short term

Increase cultural awareness within the RDBN business community by connecting First Nation advocates and industry based First Nation liasons with the business community with the goal of increasing the number of practical work experience placements for Aboriginals and their success.

Chambers of Commerce, PGNAETA, Bladerunners, Industry based First Nation liasons, First Nations Education Coordinators, Burns Lake Native Development Corporation, CNC, NWCC

Short term and ongoing

Co-create initiatives with First Nations communities and organizations, with the leadership of the SWOT.

First Nations, SWOT, Chambers of Commerce, PGNAETA, Bladerunners, Industry based First Nation liasons, First Nations Education Coordinators, Burns Lake Native Development Corporation, Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Society, Office of the Wet’suwet’en

Medium term and ongoing


Goal Statement: Empower evidence-based decision making through reliable, current and relevant information

Strategy #1: Inform to strengthen decision-making

Recommended Actions

Potential Partners


Encourage more structured information-sharing between training institutions and the business community to strengthen program alignment with skills demand, and to promote opportunities for corporate support for capital investment or access to technology, equipment, to strengthen program curriculum. 
Encourage ongoing development and updating of a local training and post-secondary program inventory to support labour market development.


Short term and ongoing

Review ongoing activities to develop business case to validate the return on investment for local business to participate in apprenticeships and support the dissemination of relevant information through the SWOT.

SWOT, Industry (New Gold), Nechako Valley Secondary Education Working Committee, RDBN

Short term


Strategy #2: Support community engagement with fly-in, fly- out workforce

Recommended Actions

Potential Partners


Assemble and publish relevant cost of living information. This should be updated quarterly and could be posted on a regional job portal as well as the RDBN website. Promote the regional District website as a means of informing fly-in/fly-out workers and their families of regional amenities.

Chambers of Commerce, CFDCs, NDI, WorkBC, RDBN

Medium term and ongoing

Create opportunities to engage fly-in/fly-out workers to participate in sporting and social gatherings, including current residents who travel for work and non-residents who are working in the region. Some sport teams have allocated joint spaces to these workers allowing at least one person to participate when they are available to do so. This example could be celebrated and shared through communications.

Municipalities, Chambers of Commerce

Short term

Collaborate in designing and delivering a ‘get to know your region program’ for fly-in/fly-out workers. This program might include coupons to visit stores, restaurants and recreational facilities or a guided tour of the local community. This could be an expansion of the current, “Small Town Love” program.

Chambers of Commerce, Industry partners,

Short to medium term


Project Management Committee

The Project Management Committee (PMC) was instrumental in the completion of the strategy.  The PMC met monthly, attended focus group meetings, reviewed drafts of the report, and provided input and guidance to the consulting firm, Millier Dickinson Blais.  The PMC consisted of representatives from local government, industry, small business, First Nations, and Education providers.


Corrine Swenson, Manager of Regional Economic Development, Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako

Deneve Vanderwolf, Regional Economic Development Assistant, Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako

Karin Hunt, Executive Director, Prince George Nechako Aboriginal Employment and Training Association

Kathie LaForge, Community Manager, New Gold Inc., Blackwater Project

Mike McDiarmid, Assistant Superintendent, School District #54

Halley Finch, ESC Manager, Work BC

Maureen Czirfusz, Manager, District of Houston Chamber of Commerce

Lianne Olson, Community Relations Liaison, Rio Tinto Alcan

Lynn Synotte, Marketing, Recruitment and Program Linkages, College of New Caledonia, Lakes Campus

Rob Newell, Director – Electoral Area “G”(Houston Rural), Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako

Danielle Smyth, Regional Director, Eastern Region, Northwest Community College

Carrie Dusterhoft, Manager, Community Transitions, Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training


Trudy Parsons, Director Workforce Development, Millier Dickinson Blais

Sarah Lewis, Senior Development Analyst, Millier Dickinson Blais


In July of 2013 Trudy Parsons and Sarah Lewis from Millier Dickinson Blais visited the Region.  During their visit six community focus groups were held, several face to face individual interviews were conducted and the resident survey was completed.

Burns-Lake Fort-St-James
Fraser-Lake Houston
Smithers Vanderhoof


In October of 2013 Trudy Parsons and Sarah Lewis from Millier Dickinson Blais returned to the region and a Special Luncheon Event was held in Burns Lake.  The event gave the opportunity for stakeholders to get a project update and provide input into prioritizing the strategic actions in the report.

BLMeeting  BLMeeting2


Partnership Opportunities

Please contact the Regional Economic Development Department if you have questions/suggestions or would like to be involved in the implementation of the strategy.

Corrine Swenson, Manager of Regional Economic Development
Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako
Phone:  (250) 692-3195
Toll Free: 1-800 320-3339{/sliders}