The Kootenay Development Region created 3,100 jobs last year, but those numbers aren’t translating into opportunities for job hunters.
In the 2014 State of the Basin Report, issued annually but the Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute (CBRDI), only 15 per cent of poll respondents said that there were sufficient job opportunities, despite the thousands of positions opening up in the area.
Marla Smiley, employment services manager at Trail’s Community Skills Centre, says the disparity could be because job hunters aren’t looking in the right place.
“I think it’s about the type of work people are looking for and the fact that most jobs available aren’t advertised,” she said.
“They are just getting a snapshot of what is available when they look at the job boards and in the newspaper. It gets discouraging because you see the same jobs out there all the time. If you identify the type of work you want to do and even the company you want to work for, then there will be more available.”
Of the 3,100 jobs created in the Kootenay region, Smiley says she believes most of them are in the professional and trade sectors – positions that require a specific skill set. That is where the Skills Centre comes in.
“We do all that we can to find the right fit for the individual,” she said, adding that she has seen an increase in use of the Skills Centre over the past year.
“There are always the retail and service type positions, but when people are really looking for a living wage, they would be looking at something professional or a trade position.
“We are certainly able to help people. There can be training, which can lead to skilled trades as well as wage subsidy.”
Part of the effort to match jobs with qualified workers is the Work West Kootenay website, launched by the Lower Columbia Community Development Team Society (LCCDTS). The site gives employers an opportunity to advertise skilled labour positions, making them more visible to job hunters.
“It is a regional portal for employers to put up their job information so when outside skilled labour people are looking jobs in our region, they can peruse and browse all of the various positions that are available,” said Terry Van Horn, economic development officer at LCCDTS. “Now they have a place to go to look at some of the key employers in our region and what kinds of jobs they can provide.”
Smiley and the Community Skills Centre are prepping to help job hunters in the new year, and are focussing on getting youth and women in positions where they can financially support themselves.
“We think that there is going to be in increase in the use of our services, we are putting together new services to see how else we can help people,” she said. “We are going to be working with youth and working with women who don’t necessarily want to go into what are seen as traditional roles for them. Instead of three retail jobs, one full-time job is easier. As well, in most instances, benefits come along, which has a huge impact.”
The Kootenay Development Region currently has the highest job creation rate in B.C. The region is also seeing its lowest unemployment rate since 2009.
To view the 2014 Snapshot of the Basin report, visit www.cbrdi.ca.