Morinville businesses short on job seekers
Job fair attracts few job hunters
By: Viola Pruss
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 30, 2013 06:00 am
Everything said “ready to hire” at Tuesday morning’s job fair in Morinville.
The pamphlets were laid out, the big, colourful bags of petfood decorated the table, and Heather Stevenson, human resources advisor with Champion Petfoods, sat with a pen in hand.
All that was missing were more people to hire.
“Morinville, they think it’s hours away but really it’s just outside of St. Albert,” Stevenson said. “People who are living within Edmonton tend to stay in Edmonton so our pool is smaller.”
Tuesday’s mini job fair at the Morinville Community Library was expected to bring out job seekers for positions with Champion Petfoods, Artic Therm, Liberty Tire Recycling and St. Albert’s Allstate Insurance.
In the past year Champion has increased the number of countries it services from 60 to 70. But the company is having difficulty finding workers due to a tight labour market and a lack of qualified workers, Stevenson said.
“Our turnover is really quite low, especially in the industry that we have, but we are still a growing company,” she said. “We (produce) very high quality pet food so we want people that pay attention to a quality product.”
Artic Therm, a business specializing in flameless heating technology, is always looking for people, said office manager Tracy Strand.
Last year, the company employed six permanent workers. Now it has about 16 permanent positions filled, as well as another 20 seasonal labourers. The company’s biggest obstacle is finding enough people, Strand said.
“Morinville is a little tougher I think," she said. "I don’t know if they don’t want to drive out here but a lot of our positions are not here anyways. They get sent out."
A tight labour market is causing a general problem across northern Alberta, said Simon Boersma, president of the Morinville & District Chamber of Commerce.
That has nothing to do with the employer per se, he said, but with better pay rates in other locations outside of the community. Community jobs start at about $14 an hour while jobs in the north of the province may start as high as $20 an hour.
“People will move for a couple of bucks an hour and work in the north,” he said. “It’s a common problem in the service industry … they all have high turnover, always looking for more resumés.”
At the same time, company operators prefer their employees to be local, Boersma said. That not only cuts down on gas costs, but also keeps money in the community, he said.
Yet even those looking for jobs find it difficult to find the right position.
Lesley Roy, a Morinville resident, said she now works in St. Albert but would like to be closer to home.
“Gas is very expensive and if I found a job that was up my alley … I am willing to drive but I don’t want to drive two hours,” she said.
Despite being versatile and ready to learn just about anything, she said it’s difficult to convince employers of your qualifications unless you focus on one skill.
Employers also prefer newer university graduates, not people who studied in their field 10 years ago, she said.
Looking for something more specific was Lorie Groth with Allstate Insurance.
Groth attended the job fair on Tuesday to let Morinville residents know about an open sales position in her St. Albert business. While she prefers hiring local, she said finding people in the insurance industry is a challenge.
“When people think about getting a job, they think about bigger companies,” she said. “They certainly don’t think insurance.”