Labour poses chal­lenge for lo­cal econ­omy

The Drumheller Mail - - MAIL WORKS! - Pa­trick Ko­lafa The Drumheller Mail

As the econ­omy across Canada per­forms well, em­ploy­ers are see­ing a dearth of skilled work­ers. Some of these forces are sim­i­lar in the val­ley.

The Cana­dian Fed­er­a­tion of In­de­pen­dent Busi­nesses (CFIB) re­leased a re­port, and ac­cord­ing to the third quar­ter Help Wanted Re­port, there are 371,000 va­cant jobs across Canada. Even in Al­berta, where the econ­omy is just be­gin­ning to show signs of re­cov­ery, the re­port says there are about 33,900 un­filled po­si­tions.

“Labour short­ages are again be­com­ing a ma­jor hin­drance to busi­nesses across the coun­try, es­pe­cially small firms,” said Ted Mal­lett, Chief Econ­o­mist at CFIB. “We need gov­ern­ment to take ac­tion, to find so­lu­tions for chronic short­ages that in­hibit a small busi­ness’ abil­ity to take on new con­tracts, ex­pand and in­no­vate.”

Labour is­sues are also a con­cern in Drumheller ac­cord­ing to a re­cent sur­vey un­der­taken by Com­mu­nity Fu­tures Big Coun­try. Michael Love of Com­mu­nity Fu­tures con­ducted a busi­ness vis­i­ta­tion study this fall, in­ter­view­ing em­ploy- ers and busi­ness owner in the val­ley. Labour was a large con­cern.

Ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey, about 60 per cent of the re­spon­dents in­di­cated that the avail­abil­ity of qual­i­fied per­son­nel is a prob­lem in Drumheller. It states that in some cases this was a lim­it­ing fac­tor on busi­ness devel­op­ment and growth, or a fac­tor in de­cid­ing whether a busi­ness ex­pands its op­er­a­tions else­where of ceases op­er­a­tions.

“A sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of em­ploy­ers said en­try level po­si­tions were rea­son­ably easy to hire for, but man­age­ment and skills were more dif­fi­cult,” said Love.

Ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey, this num­ber rose to 82 per cent when speak­ing with busi­nesses in the hos­pi­tal­ity busi­ness and was the low­est for tourism op­er­a­tors.

“Bear in mind op­er­a­tors are pri­mar­ily sea­sonal,” said Love.

“Anec­do­tally I heard from peo­ple there is not a lot of depth in the labour pool,” he said.

The sur­vey was con­ducted ear­lier this year and fo­cused on more than just labour.

“It was look­ing to iden­tify trends in the busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment, needs and op­por­tu­ni­ties and more specif­i­cally to iden­tify how Com­mu­nity Fu­tures could be of as­sis­tance,” said Love. “It is also to pro­vide re­search that hope­fully any­body could use.

There was a pos­i­tive re­sult, es­pe­cially in re­sponses to char­ac­ter­iz­ing their own busi­nesses. Equal per­cent­ages of re­spon­dents (39.7) felt their busi­ness was ei­ther grow­ing or main­tain­ing while 9 per cent felt their busi­ness as de­clin­ing, and 9 per cent re­ported they were re­struc­tur­ing in re­sponse to eco­nomic con­di­tions.

Some of the op­por­tu­ni­ties the sur­vey showed sup­port for short-term train­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. 41 per cent of the re­spon­dents felt this could im­prove Drumheller’s busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment. About 39 per cent in­di­cated there is room to of­fer more post-sec­ondary for young peo­ple in the com­mu­nity, with the high­est sup­port from the lo­cal ser­vice in­dus­try.

Love says that with the va­ri­ety of ar­eas that were iden­ti­fied in the sur­vey, col­lab­o­ra­tion is key to ad­dress­ing some of the is­sues.

“Who­ever can pro­vide the pieces, I think as a com­mu­nity we should get to­gether to do this,” he said.

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