How these 2 companies found new hires in homesick Atlantic Canadians

Posted on January 08, 2020 | Sarah Smellie | 0 Comments

If you’re an Atlantic Canadian who moved away for work, you may be seeing ads in your social media feeds designed to lure you back.

In a bid to fill more than 70 open jobs across its dealerships in all four Atlantic province, Steele Autogroup launched the Come Home campaign in September, running targeted social media ads in Ontario and Alberta designed to attract new workers to Atlantic Canada.

They carry a message Steele hopes will be irresistible: “You don’t have to live away to have an awesome career,” says Peter Porteous, Steele’s vice-president of business development.

The company even provides up to $7,500 to help with the costs of moving.

So far, they’ve been a big hit with Atlantic Canadians who moved away for work, Porteous says. Since the campaign launched, he says Steele has helped seven Atlantic Canadians move back to the region and settle into jobs at Steele.

“And there are lots of other candidates in the pipelines.”

Peter Porteous is Steele Autogroup’s vice-president of business development.

The applications from ex-pat Atlantic Canadians are mainly coming from mid-career workers with new families who are hoping to raise their kids on home turf, he says.

The majority of the vacant jobs at Steele are for technicians who’d be working in the dealerships doing repairs. The largest number of vacancies are in Nova Scotia, since that’s where the largest number of Steele shops are located.

The lack of skilled labourers is an industry-wide problem and Porteous says Steele has been grappling with it for quite some time.

The Come Home campaign compliments the company’s existing efforts to hire skilled workers, which include putting putting major resources into training and mentoring existing employees and trying to attract applicants already in the region, he says.

It’s working in Newfoundland and Labrador

In St. John’s, Genoa Design has been successful bringing Newfoundlanders and Labradorians back home to work with them, but it wasn’t through a targeted program.

Always in need of new talent, the shipbuilding company asked their employees last year to recommend former colleagues and classmates they’d love to work with.

Kevin Kelly is Genoa Design International’s chief operating officer.

It was a happy accident that most of the people hired through this recommendation process were Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who’d moved to the mainland for a job, says Kevin Kelly, Genoa’s chief operating officer.

“We’ve all got that draw toward coming back home,” he says. “So the ability to be in a business and an organization where you can help facilitate that in a real, meaningful way is pretty incredible.”

Global interest

There’s been another bonus to Steele’s alluring ad campaign—what he calls an “unanticipated win.”

“We’ve just been pummelled by applications from outside the country,” he says. “It created a lot of awareness around the world, basically, of people who are looking for a career in this industry and a way to get to Canada.”

Steele is set up to accept international employees through the Atlantic Immigration Pilot program, but they haven’t yet used the program to hire someone outside the country, he says.

With all the international interest in careers at the company, he says they’re now one step closer.

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