By Lyonel Doherty
WorkBC wouldn’t exist without local employers, so on Wednesday the Open Door Group in Oliver expressed its appreciation with an open house.
“Small business in particular really run our economy, and we certainly see that in Oliver and Osoyoos,” said job developer Kendi Clearwater.
She noted they recently held a mini job fair at the new Coast Hotel in Oliver, where 12 people were hired.
“We just want to say thanks to the employers. It’s a long summer, especially with agriculture and the hospitality industry; they’re just needing people or else they wouldn’t be in business.”
Clearwater said there’s a good partnership between WorkBC and local businesses, such as The Wienery, a new entrepreneurship in Oliver that took part in Wednesday’s open house.
The job developer said they are definitely seeing the effects of a low unemployment rate right now. She noted that Canada’s unemployment rate is 5.8 per cent (six per cent is considered full employment).
She pointed out that employment rose by 54,000 in July, driven by gains in part-time work. She added that employment rose for women (age 25 to 54) and edged up for females aged 55 and older.
In B.C., the number of people working increased by 11,000, and the unemployment rate was five per cent.
“There’s just more people employed,” Clearwater said, adding that employers are still looking to fill seasonal and full-time (year-round) jobs.
“I have employers calling me up and saying I need somebody and I can’t fill that.”
She said they do their best to help local employers recruit and advertise via social media.
One of the tools WorkBC has is “job start support.” For example, they recently talked to the new owners of Structurlam who are looking for production workers. Clearwater said job start support can help people with the cost of work boots or gas money until they get their first paycheque.
They also provide short-term skills training such as first aid CPR.
“Those are ways we can help employers get people quickly employed.”
Clearwater said there is a high demand for health care aids and anything in the justice field (and not just corrections work). She noted the province is looking for sheriffs, RCMP officers and security guards. There’s also a demand for border guards and military personnel, she pointed out.
Marketing is also becoming more in demand, Clearwater said. For example, some of the wineries are looking for marketing and sales people.
Automation is borne out of low unemployment and high job demand, but anything that requires people is going to be an ongoing labour market demand into the next 20 years, she said.
“Even administration, you know, a lot of that cannot be done automated and so they are looking for people with high skills in Excel and spreadsheets.”
Clearwater said there is still a very high demand for trades, such as construction workers and mechanics.
“Because of the way people are retiring; we’re losing a lot of people with those skills in the workforce.”
Clearwater said there are some employers who are willing to train new workers without the desired skills.
For example, she said that Alberto Veintimilla at Underfoot Flooring is willing to train installers who have the right attitude and the focus to do quality work.
Clearwater said WorkBC offers a wage subsidy for employers willing to train people.
As for those looking for jobs, she admitted that it’s not a walk in the park despite the low unemployment rate.
“Going through the job search is the hardest thing to do to your self-esteem,” she stated. “You may have been a highly respected career person and now you’ve retired here and you’re looking for work and all of a sudden those 40 years mean nothing.”
Clearwater said some people might have been off work due to an illness, resulting in surgery or a physical challenge. But the fact is they need a job because unemployment insurance when you’re sick is only 15 weeks, she pointed out.
Some young people have never had a job before, while others have been on income assistance.
“This is tough to get back into the workforce.”
But WorkBC offers career planning for people by identifying their strengths and matching them to the local labour market.
People from all walks of life are invited to drop in to Open Door Group at 201-291 Fairview Road in Oliver or 9150-4 Main Street in Osoyoos.
Staff can help people update their resume and cover letters, and help them with job interview skills.
Clearwater said networking (talking to people about your employment search) is very important, especially if you want to break into the hidden job market.
“I have many employers who come to me and don’t want their job advertised, they just want me to recommend someone.”
Clearwater said they work closely with people who have disabilities to help them find the right job. For example, someone might be great at customer service but cannot lift heavy objects, a task that another employee can do.