At 8:30 a.m. on Thursday April 27 the Alberni Athletic Hall was loud with the buzz of dozens of employers setting up their tables in hopes to reach new employees. Nuu-chah-nulth Employment and Training Program has partnered with Alberni Valley Employment Center/Work BC for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic in setting up this career fair.
It was a long, busy day for the 52 companies participating in the Career Fair, which ran from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., drawing nearly 400 job seekers. Frisco Lucas, a Mowachalaht/Muchalaht member, showed up resume in hand and ready to find a job.
“I miss the days where you could just hand out a resume and get a job, everything now is online and it makes it very confusing,” he told Ha-Shilth-Sa.
The wide variety of employers ranged from the food service industry to local mills, including Ha-Shilth-Sa having their very own table. It seems most businesses in Port Alberni are seeing a lack of workers.
“It’s all areas, I can’t think of any area that doesn’t have a worker shortage,” said Bill Brown with the Alberni Valley Employment Center, when asked which areas have the biggest worker shortages. “We post double the amount of jobs every month compared to pre-pandemic.”
The top 10 job fields with employee shortages are cleaners, cooks, nurses, kitchen helpers, retail sales, servers, truck drivers, social workers, health care aids and construction laborers. With a population more likely to age out of the workforce, the Alberni Valley has a higher percentage number of people over 65 than the B.C. or even Canadian average.
“This year we are trying to put a little bit of an emphasis on hiring people with disabilities at this hiring fair and we are making an effort of the hiring fair itself to be inclusive,” said Brown.
The employment centre worked out a relationship with United cabs where if someone couldn’t get to the fair, they could call the cab company to get a ride to the Alberni Athletic Hall and AVEC picked up the tab.
As special project coordinator with NETP, Shan Ross has been organizing hiring fairs since 2016.
“We hear it from both sides, job seekers have trouble finding work and employers have a hard time finding and keeping workers,” he said about the high number of open jobs.
Even though the Career Fair is over, NETP is still helping members of the community find work
“We offer help from the creating a resume stage to adding certification, short-term certification courses like first aid, WHIMIS, food safe, these expire in three to five years, and long-term certification such as traffic control, basic security, driver’s license. Certificates you can create a career out of,” said Ross. “We also see there is a high demand for trades people and NETP can support you with trades training.”
For more information or to have NETP help they have offices in Port Alberni, Tofino, Ucluelet and Gold River.