This week the Hugh Rogers Wag Park in Whitefish was featured in USA Today as one of the 10 best dog parks in the country.Founded east of downtown in 2009, the five-acre off-leash public park is a pet’s paradise, featuring open space, an obstacle course, walking paths and even a drinking fountain for dogs.“It’s always clean and well-kept. The commitment there is very strong,” Becca Barnett of BringFido.com, a website dedicated to pet-friendly places, told USA Today.The national accolade is serving as further inspiration for separate groups in Kalispell and Columbia Falls that are trying to rally resources and awareness for similar off-leash parks.In Kalispell, a steering committee of volunteers is spearheading the development of an off-leash site where pet owners can gather and let their four-legged friends roam free. Pets must be kept on a leash in all public parks in Kalispell.According to Chris Carter, who is helping lead the effort alongside her fellow volunteers, Kalispell is ready for its own dog park. The group is raising community support through fundraisers and donations for the Paws to Play Dog Park.City officials agree, and the Kalispell Parks and Recreation Department has given the initial thumbs up to explore a place where a fenced-in park could be established. The Flathead Community Foundation has also teamed up with the group and is helping raise funds.The group of volunteers includes four women who are longtime dog owners, including Jane Nelson-Ott, who has owned a dog since she was 9. She and her husband have a golden retriever named Willow.“I would like to see a place where I can take her and turn her loose and let her run and be happy,” Nelson-Ott said.The same goes for Alison Megahan, who would like a place to socialize with her little Dachshund Ole and other pet owners.“I like to be outside and go running with my dog,” she said. “And I would love to have a place where I can do that and meet other people and dogs. I think it’s a good community project. I haven’t heard anything negative. Every one is very supportive of the idea.”The group is exploring potential sites for the park and raising funds for possible land acquisition and amenities at the park.May 5 is Give Local America, a national fundraising day set aside for nonprofit organizations, and the dog park is part of the Flathead Community Foundation’s lineup of available groups that can receive donations during the 24-hour online fundraising event.A fundraiser is planned for May 20 at the MacKenzie River restaurants in Kalispell. A portion of the proceeds from meals that night will go toward the park. Another fundraiser is planned for Aug. 5 at Tamarack Brewing Company in Lakeside. A portion of proceeds from pints sold will go toward the park.The group will meet this week to decide other fundraising efforts and community events to raise awareness.“We’re looking forward to the day when they can play off a leash together,” said Diane Bokor, a volunteer member of the steering committee who has a papillon named Roscoe.In Columbia Falls, a similar effort is underway involving community members who are eager to set aside a friendly place where dogs can play off leash. City officials sent out a community survey last year seeking input on future projects for Columbia Falls and a resounding message was that people wanted a dog park similar to Whitefish’s.The Columbia Falls City Council has already agreed to provide $10,000 for a park. But city officials wanted the project to be driven by the community, so a group of volunteers is leading the way and rallying support. A public meeting is planned for later this month to gather ideas and proposals for the future site.Jenny Lovering, a city councilor and community member helping explore the creation of a dog park, said it’s likely that the park would be located on city property.Both projects have the benefit of seeing how Whitefish created its popular park and learning from its organizers. The Wag Park involved four years of planning and collaborating with the community before the valley’s first off-leash site was established in the Armory Park complex. The nonprofit Whitefish Animal Group led the effort to locate the best available space, raise funds and create the design, and now the city owns and maintains the beloved space, which continues to grow with amenities.“A lot of us take our dogs over to Whitefish and I think even if all three cities have a dog park it wouldn’t be an overload,” Lovering said. “There are a lot of dogs in this valley.”For more information about the Paws to Play Dog Park in Kalispell, visit http://www.pawstoplay.org or its Facebook page. The Columbia Falls park is in the process of creating a website. Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. Email
A new report from the ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey states that employment trends in the first quarter of 2021 are expected to be on the rise with a Net Employment Outlook of 5 percent. Not just that, the report also states that corporate India plans to hire more people in the first three months of 2021 compared to the quarter ending December 2020. The economy is finally showing some fledgling signs of recovery, and with the imminent arrival of a vaccine for Covid-19, an overall positive sentiment seems to have gripped the market.Many of the fundamental factors that have sustained the Indian economy over the years, including geopolitical issues, demography, and a diversified economy, will continue playing their roles in the new normal. But now, there is another key component that has been added to the mix – digitization.Thanks to the pandemic, digital acceleration at the workplace has increased manifold in less than a year. We now operate in times when the new business circumstances around the world have created a variety of jobs that require digital skills, making 2020 a wholly tech-dominated year.Take the example of all the ed-tech startups that have emerged this year to teach coding to children, and make them future-ready. Right from Camp K12, StayQrious, to Coding Ninjas and Tinker Coders, the shift in online teaching has meant these startups have all generated immense interest. Plus, the grand success of the coding platform Whitehat Jr. has further fueled this change. Even in the healthcare sector, the disruption arising out of Covid-19 has triggered a transformation, with more and more people preferring digital consultations over physical ones.But will this trend continue to dominate 2021, and how will it impact the overall employability sentiment?It may seem like this sudden wave of digitization will overtake all our jobs. And there is some truth in all of this. In the Indian IT industry, insiders and analysts peg the number of IT and ITeS employees set to lose their jobs over the next few quarters between 150,000 and 200,000. But does that mean that we are simply living in a historically unprecedented time for job losses, or is this all part of something that will precede an employment revolution?The need of the hour is adaptation rather than reinvention. What this trend of digitization will do is build a bigger marketplace for professionals in 2021, creating a favorable demand-supply situation. Companies across the spectrum will now be on the lookout for employees who can fit into niche portfolios, and are domain-experts rather than just generalized professionals.Moreover, organizations will now work harder to ‘put humans in the loop’, a term coined by Deloitte to describe how companies will have to rethink work architecture and retrain people to leverage technology and transform the business. The broader aim will not be just to eliminate routine tasks or cut costs, but to create more value for the end consumers, and more meaningful work for employees.The focus in 2021 should be on expanding both digital and soft skills. The rise of automation in the workplace has brought along a whole set of new skills needed in human workers. Technology will definitely replace a lot of the manual and repetitive tasks that most jobs entail, but it will also free up time to hone skills that are uniquely human. In fact, a World Economic Forum study shows that the top skills for the next decade will include critical thinking, creativity, and people management, all of which are essential human skills, and not something that can be achieved through automation. Companies will still need workers that can exhibit these skills, alongside the digital skills necessary for the changing times. What this means is that you may be happy with online doctor consultation for now, but at some point, you will require that human touch and empathy.Humans were and will remain key enablers of this smart new world of technology. They will only be an evolution of typical workers, but what will set them apart is their ability to understand the new landscape of work, and adapt seamlessly to it.