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New Canadians eyed to fill some vacancies in Kamloops job market

Venture Kamloops told city council an employment gap is one of the most acute problems that has developed from the pandemic

As local storefronts display help wanted signs, Venture Kamloops is working to help businesses alleviate staffing shortages, including via the hiring of new Canadians.

Venture Kamloops executive director Jim Anderson appeared before city council on Tuesday, Nov. 30, providing an update on the strategic plan of the city’s economic development arm.

Council heard that a gap in employment is one of the most acute problems that has developed from the pandemic.

“The thing that really brings home the intensity of this is that we knew, from a labour market study we did well before the pandemic — 2015 — that by 2025, the Kamloops region was going to be 10,000 workers short,” Anderson said. “And, if you look at that 2015 report, there is no mention of a pandemic. And put that into the mix and the shortage has intensified to the point where it’s causing an effect on daily business on the storefronts of Kamloops.”

That study found that 48,000 workers would be needed, but only 38,000 would be available, due to factors including retirements, people moving, business growth and more.

Anderson said Venture Kamloops is working to curate resources for businesses and provide one-on-one guidance to bridge labour gaps.

Speaking with KTW, Anderson said there are many programs available that are not user-friendly, noting programs are limited for frontline customer service, after-school-type jobs. However, he said jobs that require skill and experience — such as technology, engineering and other professional jobs — can be backfilled with new Canadians.

“The federal government is willing to help employers do that,” Anderson said, noting Venture Kamloops has signed a memorandum of understanding with the federal government to refer people into programs and cut down on time lag.

Meanwhile, Anderson there is not yet a solution for a shortage of workers to fill front-counter, customer-facing jobs, which he called a “really tough problem.” He said it is the most noticeable because residents will see retail and restaurant closures.

One piece of advice for businesses — hang on to people they have. Anderson said the issue goes beyond compensation — a job offer for $2 more per hour will not make an employee leave, if they are happy — but also includes flexibility, benefits and engagement with employees to improve employee retention.