Foothills Alliance Church in Edgemont was filled with people hearing a different kind of sermon on Saturday: information on getting a job in this tight labour market.
Calgary Centre-North MP, Michelle Rempel hosted the event as way to connect job seekers with agencies aimed at helping people get work.
A similar event was held at the church last spring, when Calgary’s unemployment rate was at 8.3 per cent. As of last month, the city’s jobless rate sat at 9.3 per cent — the highest in the country.
“Unfortunately we haven’t seen a lot of green shoots in terms of a major upturn in the economy,” said Rempel.
“My concern this year — as opposed to last year — is that with people who were laid off, we are seeing a lot of people whose severances have run out, and unemployment benefits have run out, and people are really asking the question of whether or not they can stay in Calgary.”
Job hunters at Saturday’s job fair got a lesson how to market themselves. Standing out in the crowd is critical when there is so much competition for the same positions, one expert said.
“There are fewer roles and more people for those roles,” said Marie-France Varin, a career coach with Career Connection at Bow Valley College.
She says there are a wide variety of unemployed people in Calgary now, including many who are returning to the workforce after a long absence because the bread-winner in the household was laid off.
Varin said there are more postings now than there were six months ago for support roles like data entry, administration and warehouse jobs, but not so much in management.
“With the downturn, things haven’t turned around yet completely, and so companies are not re-hiring the people that they let go in those roles,” Varin said.
She said things are looking up in Calgary, but determination and patience are key for job seekers.
“The indicators suggest that we are, this year, supposed to see economic growth, so it’s just a question of time. But these things don’t happen instantaneously. Don’t forget that in the labour market, it’s not just the people who have been recently let go that are looking for work,” she said.
“There are people who continue looking for opportunities just for a change. We also have new graduates entering the labour market and we still have people moving to Calgary. So it’s a large volume of individuals who are looking for employment, so the competition is greater.”
Last month, the national unemployment rate dropped slightly to 6.5 per cent, from 6.7 per cent in March.
A look at Calgary’s unemployment rate history:
July 2016 – 8.6 per cent (Calgary’s unemployment rate becomes worst in Canada)
August 2016 – 9 per cent
September 2016 – 9.5 per cent
October 2016 – 10.2 per cent
November 2016 – 10.3 per cent
December 2016 – 10.2 per cent
January 2017 – 9.8 per cent
February 2017 – 9.4 per cent
March 2017 – 9.3 per cent
→ April 2017 – 9.3 per cent