The province is taking a lot of heat this week for its ‘3,000 jobs now’ campaign. Yes, the number is misleading, if not completely false. Single job postings on multiples sites were counted as separate jobs, and then rounded up. Several of the 3,000 postings are from companies looking to gather resumes without actually having a current position to fill. Others were positions already filled, but still listed. Opposition Leader Blaine Higgs wants the province to pull the advertising for the last two weeks of the scheduled campaign. While I agree the national billboards should come down, I also want to stand up for the value in paying for campaigns like this.
In 2009 I was living in Toronto. I had a job with as much security as I’d ever known, with a comfortable, competitive pay rate. I had a fantastic urban family. I was happy. But I was also attending talks with urban planner and ‘creative class’ theorist Richard Florida. I wanted to put down roots in a place that made me happy and offered more than just a job.
This was right around the time New Brunswick rolled out the provincial slogan “Be … in this place.” That campaign, much like our current ‘3,000 Jobs Now’, didn’t strike the chords the government hoped it would. But despite the corny phrase ripe for comedic relief, I did choose to be in this place. The province was actively doing something. Municipal and provincial leaders were taking the time to talk with people like me, attending conferences and networking events, and pushing a message of positivity. That’s what struck a chord. Not the economic forecasts. Not the political rhetoric. The face-to-face conversations with people who were passionate about where they lived.
My now-husband and I went to a job fair/recruitment event under the shadow of the CN Tower. We talked with folks from the City of Moncton and Malley Industries. We were invited to a round-table with the Minister of Business New Brunswick. We learned about the province’s tuition rebate program (a significant part of what eventually led us to relocate in this province, rather than Nova Scotia). And before the next decade began, we were living here.
The promise of job openings didn’t bring us here. It hasn’t brought most people I know to New Brunswick. We came because people believed in the promise of this place. There was a sense of a creative community that was being supported and fostered by those in leadership positions.
We might not have 3,000 jobs that could be filled tomorrow, but we do have opportunity in New Brunswick. We have creativity, and perseverance, and a culture that is unique. We have small town perks with big city dreams. And if those billboards made someone take a closer look at New Brunswick as an option, then that’s great. Do I wish the numbers had been accurate or double-checked? Yes. Would I rather see a more compelling, current approach to recruiting by the province with the country’s youngest premier? Yes. Do I think we’re doing our best at promoting New Brunswick? No. But I think it’s important that we don’t stop trying.
We need Instagram sensation Dennis Prescott cooking meals for would-be New Brunswickers. We need Thirsty Under Thirty holding meet-ups across the country to show that we value the Millennial generation in Moncton. We need Hub City Young Professionals creating 2107 versions of Welcome Wagon for young entrepreneurs and professionals who come here. We need to keep making connections with the people looking for a new adventure. If we show the world what we’ve got, they’ll choose to be in this place, too.
She Said appears Saturdays in the Times & Transcript.