Assessing the Applicability of the Local Active Labour Market Development Approach in Newfoundland and Labrador: A Case Study of the Placentia Area

Many scholars have stressed the positive role that locally oriented Active Labour Market Policies (ALMP) can play when integrated with traditional regional development policies and programs due to their ability to respond to specific local labour market conditions, such as pockets of high unemployment or local labour demand for particular occupations. Cultural, historical, economical and even geographical aspects of everyday live shape problems that are specific to particular localities. Comprehensive local development planning based on coordination of labour market development with economic development, is believed to bring more sustainable outcomes. The local level is seen within an ALMP framework not only as a level of service delivery, but as a scale where labour market policies can be adapted to the needs of target groups of both unemployed and local businesses, thus fostering local economic development. A local approach to policy-making and in particular to ALMP has been favoured for its innovations and for creation of “best practices” examples.

A growing body of literature seeks to explain the reasons underlying the disconnection between local workforce and economic development. The first approach focuses on human capital and social inclusion and addresses local development from the supply side of the labour market. Local economic development often represents a sectoral approach and seeks to achieve labour market development goals from the demand side. In many local areas these two key aspects of development are separated by factors such as organizational structures and sources of funding, different goals and performance indicators, self-perception and attitudes towards each other. The absence of collaboration between two approaches leads to an inability to identify and pursue common interests.

This research investigated how theories related to local approaches to ALMP and their coordination with local economic development were implemented to address pockets of unemployment in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Further, the potential for a learning communities approach to enhance local ALMP was considered. The objectives of this research were to: increase understanding of the impediments to adjustment of local labour market supply to emerging economic development opportunities in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly in Placentia area; and to explore the potential of developing local partnerships to facilitate the creation and implementation of a local labour market development strategy within a rural Newfoundland and Labrador region, particularly the Placentia area, to bridge local workforce and economic development.

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