City lacks growing industries
Many growing employment sectors not located in St. Albert shows market analysis
Saturday, Sep 06, 2014 06:00 am
It’s suits beating overalls in St. Albert, based on a recent snapshot of the city’s employment landscape.
A new labour market analysis shows that most of the city’s population works in administration, business and health care, with fewer employed in the construction, or other growing industries in the region.
But with many of the fastest-growing job sectors not located in the city, St. Albert is growing more slowly than some of its neighbours.
This forces residents to leave the city each day to work in Edmonton, and keeps migrants from moving here, said Rhys Chouinard, economic analyst.
“You can think maybe the reason that some other communities are growing faster is because they are able to capture those migrants coming to Alberta for work in the oil and gas industry,” he said.
“If your particular industry isn’t catering to those types of industries, then you may not capitalize on that growth.”
The labour market analysis was conducted to help the city’s economic development team better understand recent trends in the provincial and regional labour market, said Chouinard in a presentation to council this week.
The study found that forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying and oil and gas were among the fastest growing industries in the province as of 2013.
Trade, health care and social assistance, and construction industries were ranked highest in Alberta in terms of their market-share, a trend evident in the workforce structure of Edmonton, St. Albert, Spruce Grove, and Beaumont.
Construction remains the fastest growing industry in the region.
But St. Albert only has a small share of workers in trade, manufacturing, agriculture and resource-based industries. Instead, residents find employment in educational services and finance, insurance and real estate.
Most of the city’s population works in administration, trade, business services and health care.
Chouinard said the city may be able to use the results of the analysis to direct economic growth in the future.
“Once you dive deeper and get a really good understanding of which residents have to leave because they can’t find certain jobs in St. Albert, then you can start develop your business attraction strategy,” he said.
“This is just a roadmap for any which way you want to grow St. Albert’s labour market.”
The analysis presented several options to encourage more workers to stay in the city. One option suggested to seek out and attract industries in which Edmonton had a greater share, such as trade, business services, health care and social assistance, manufacturing and agriculture.
Another strategy was St. Albert could grow industries that attract a greater work force in Alberta. These include business services, construction, manufacturing and agriculture and resource-based industries.
That does not mean the city will start going after the oil and gas industry, stressed Guy Boston, director of economic development.
But his team can use data from the analysis to attract industries now missing in the city that are also outlined in the municipal development plan, and align with council’s vision, he said.
“We want to utilize this information to help us develop targeted strategies around investment attraction,” he said.
“That’s one of the first questions that comes up ‘how vibrant is your community, how quickly is it growing and what is the labour market like?’ So this information helps us fill in some of the gaps.”