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West Kootenay employers would support job recruitment agency, study says

Consultant Mike Stolte researched viability of the service
Andrea Wilkey, executive director of Community Futures Central Kootenay, spearheaded a study that shows that a job recruitment agency would be viable in the region. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

West Kootenay employers now need to replace 1,300 workers per year, according to a local consultant.

Mike Stolte says the entire Kootenay region will need 22,000 new people to fill jobs over the next 10 years.

He says seven out of eight of those jobs will be replacement jobs because of the retiring workforce.

“The number of new graduates, young people entering the workforce, new migrants to the region and foreign students is still nowhere near what is required to replace those leaving the workforce.”

Would a recruitment agency for the West Kootenay help? Is it a viable idea?

His research report entitled West Kootenay Recruitment Agency (WKRA) Feasibility Study, published in April, set out to answer those questions.

Stolte consulted 150 employers through interviews, focus groups and an online survey.

He was contracted to do this research by a consortium of West Kootenay employment-related agencies headed by Andrea Wilkey at Community Futures Central Kootenay. The study was funded by the B.C. government.

The study concludes that a recruitment agency could break even at 24 employees recruited per year (two per month) at a 20 per cent commission paid to the agency, with an average starting salary of $70,000 per recruited employee including benefits. Two staff members — a recruiter and a recruiter/administrative assistant — could accomplish this.

Wilkey said Stolte’s report shows that a recruitment agency would be viable.

“Our thinking is, if it was easy, it would exist already,” she said. “The private sector would be doing it already. We want to see this succeed, and so what we’d like to do is incubate a business to get it up and running.”

Community Futures will hire someone with a recruitment skillset and embed them in an organization — perhaps the Kootenay Career Development Society or Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation or Community Futures itself.

“This person would benefit from one of these organizations by gaining networks, credibility, relationships in the community,” she said. “In that way, we can help them get up and running and with the goal of them eventually going off and operating it on their own.”

Stolte’s report states that 64 per cent of large employers and 59 per cent of small- or medium-sized employers would consider using and paying for such a service. One of the key stipulations voiced by employers was that the agency must be Kootenay-based and responsive to local needs.

“A lot of them have tried a recruitment agency before,” Stolte said, “but they felt that agencies outside the region didn’t really get the Kootenays — they didn’t really understand the lifestyle.”

For the report, Stolte carried out a demographic analysis: workforce predictions for the region, regional workforce composition, migration patterns, and post-secondary education statistics.

He said many employers he surveyed were optimistic: 60 per cent of them anticipate growing by at least 10 per cent over the next two years.

“So people were quite bullish on the future,” Stolte said.

They also told him that word of mouth remains overall the most-used recruitment method, although some larger employers report success with online recruitment sites.

“With all these sophisticated ways to recruit, word of mouth is still the top choice.”

A future recruitment agency could generate additional revenue through fee-based services, especially among small or medium-sized employers who do not have human resources departments.

The study considers three possible business models for the agency: not-for-profit, social enterprise, and for-profit.

“The former two models offer more regional control while the latter could be scalable and more responsive to the needs of employers,” the report states.


Study asks West Kootenay employers if they would support recruitment agency

Bill Metcalfe

About the Author: Bill Metcalfe

I have lived in Nelson since 1994 and worked as a reporter at the Nelson Star since 2015.
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