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How do I identify a strong pipeline of relevant talent?

Finding top entry-level talent is a great reason to expand to a new location and your company's future success might even depend on it.

Identifying a reliable source of entry-level, highly trained talent is important for every expansion.

First, early-career professionals should be a central part of your hiring strategy – not only are the often more affordable to hire than their more experienced peers, but they often present new perspectives and are on the cutting-edge of their field. Second, the close proximity of relevant post-secondary programs simplifies the recruitment process and improves your chances of attracting the top talent you need.

This is the seventh part in our “Guide to Foreign Business Expansion” series tackling the 12 questions every business needs to ask. Download the full guide now.

Here are three talent pipeline-related factors you should consider when preparing to expand your company:

Proximity to Talent Generators

The simplest thing you can do to evaluate a potential new location’s talent pipeline is to identify post-secondary institutions in the area. When doing this research it is imperative that you expand your search to include the surrounding area – how far afield you look is up to you.

For example, Waterloo has three post-secondary institutions within its boundaries (University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College) with a total of 73,000 students, but those numbers increase to 16 universities and colleges, and 400,000 students, when you include the full 100km/65mi Toronto-Waterloo Corridor. Bonus points for a globally-significant school like UWaterloo, which is top-40 in the world for engineering and technology and top-25 for computer science.

Strengths of Local Post-Secondary Institutions

It isn’t enough to have a high volume of schools and students – program offerings have to align with your workforce requirements. Investigate the post-secondary institutions near your potential expansion location to determine their relative strengths. Go a step further and identify the programs that produce the talent you expect to need.

This process might reveal interesting and consequential details. For example, the University of Waterloo is home to Canada’s #1 computer science program and the country’s largest engineering department, Wilfrid Laurier University is home to Canada’s top tech-centric business program and Conestoga College is the only polytechnic institute in Ontario offering fully accredited engineering degrees. So, while Waterloo accounts for just 25% of the students in the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor, if your company operates in the technology, advanced manufacturing, automation or robotics industries, our community presents a unique talent pipeline that aligns with hard-to-hire positions.

Work Experience Programs

Another factor for consideration when evaluating the talent pipeline in a new location is the availability of work experience programs at nearby post-secondary institutions. These programs can provide a low-cost, low risk source of workers, improve your company’s chances of recruiting top talent out of university and, even when you don’t participate in the program, ensure a steady stream of experienced entry-level talent.

Waterloo is the unequivocal leader in Canada when it comes to work experience programs (often called “co-operative education” or “co-op”). The University of Waterloo alone has approximately 21,500 students completing work terms each year – accounting for 31% of all co-op work terms in Canada! – and both Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College have robust programs of their own. Students in these programs graduate with two years of on-the-job experience at companies around the world – more than 7,000 employers host co-op students each year.

Economic development corporations are excellent sources of information about talent and workforce. Waterloo EDC has a large amount of research and data on local post-secondary institutions that can help inform your expansion decision.

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