Earn While You Learn: Sutton
Tourism is a major economic driver in the Sutton area, however, labour shortages are hampering growth. Through innovative skills training, tourism sector employers are attracting new talent and through upskilling they are retaining and promoting their existing workforce to take on new responsibilities and secure year-round employment.
Finding the opportunities
Phase I of the Earn While You Learn initiative at Mont SUTTON engaged 11 prospective or returning employees in a workplace-specific francization program designed to rapidly integrate English speakers and newcomers into its workplace and increase their level of bilingualism and customer service skills in time for the 2019-2020 winter ski season.
While COVID-19 halted the ski season, planning for recovery forged on through Phase II which focused on summer seasonal employers also dealing with labour shortages, only made worse by COVID-19 and a surge in domestic tourism activity. Despite these challenges, 15 participants were recruited for Phase II of this program, with one successfully hired at Huttopia, a local ‘glamping’ experience.
With unmatched resilience, Mont SUTTON and partners have recruited 14 employee participants for Phase III in preparation for the 2020-21 winter ski season despite uncertainty of a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sutton at a Glance
Top 3 industries by employment
Results to date
- Sustaining of Mont SUTTON, a major employer in the region (350 employees) by increasing labour and labour mobility within the company
- 3 English-speaking employees
retained and 1 employee promoted to a lead role at Mont SUTTON
- 9 new English-speaking employees recruited in Phases I & II in the Sutton tourism sector
- 1 employee hired at Huttopia (summer position)
- In Phase 3, from 16 recruits, 11 are employed at Mont SUTTON in various positions
Our tripartite partnership with CEDEC, the school board and the provincial government has remained strong during the COVID-19 crisis due to our consistent communication and the solid relationship we’ve developed over the last year. This relationship enabled us to get through the pandemic with our feet on the ground while planning ahead for the
start of Phase II in June 2020.
What to watch for
- Better employee retention as the employer invested in the worker
- Greater worker mobility within Mont SUTTON and in the regional tourism sector due to greater bilingualism and customer service skills
- Affordable housing initiative to retain workers in the region
- Income tax incentives for new employees to the region
Working for results
CEDEC implemented its Collaborative Economic Development Model (CEDM) to turn Sutton’s economic opportunity into a viable business venture and is managing a multi-year action plan to maintain momentum. The CLD has set about identifying additional sources of government funding for producers.
A whole range of technical, financial, mentoring and training activities are underway to build up Sutton’s agri-food sector. One early win for the collaboration came at Christmas 2020.
Usually, the town held the Sutton Christmas Market where local producers could sell their goods and generate revenue. The COVID-19 pandemic made the market impossible. CEDEC brought forward the innovative idea that producers could sell Christmas baskets through the CDES instead — and in a mere two weeks, more than 100 baskets were sold, generating $6,000 in sales.