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Edmonton sees labour shortage as employers struggle to fill hundreds of jobs

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There's an influx of job postings right now in Edmonton. The problem is finding people to fill to spots. Lisa MacGregor reports on the current shortage of applications. – Jul 13, 2021

A year ago, there was desperation to find a job during a pandemic; layoffs loomed and the future was uncertain for many in the workforce.

But now, the tables have turned in Edmonton.

Jessica Culo, president of Express Employment Professionals in Edmonton, is getting at least 100 new job postings a day to fill through her staffing agency and a major shortage of applicants.

“Employers do get frustrated when they post a position or they have us recruit for one and candidates turn it down,” Culo said.

“We are very busy right now. In the last 10 years, we haven’t seen the same type of urgency and challenge in filling roles and filling positions.”

The types of job vacancies are across the board — not just in the hospitality industry anymore.

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“Distribution, manufacturing, any kind of construction-related organizations. We’re also seeing it in business services, so accounting, finance firms, legal firms, sales and marketing,” Culo said.

Read more: Alberta’s jobless rate continued decline in March, now 9.1%

Culo said the temptation to enjoy Edmonton’s summer is one of many factors as to why job seekers aren’t applying for jobs these days.

“You might be in a role currently, and for you to make a move, there might have to be a lot of really specific requirements or specific opportunities with your next employer, but also for job seekers, our lives have changed, and what they’re looking for in a role might be very different than it was before the pandemic,” Culo said.

“But it’s also summertime. Coming out of pandemic, everybody wants to be able to go do things and travel and take vacations like they haven’t been, so it is making it harder to recruit.”

Employers might also be more set on specific requirements for new jobs now as well, according to Culo.

“Companies and employers and organizations might be looking for really really specific skill sets. The requirements might have changed coming out of the pandemic and the need for employees might be different now,” Culo said.

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Read more: Alberta’s unemployment rate drops to 8.7% in May

The Expo Centre is one of many places ramping up hiring in Edmonton.

Dan St. Pierre, director of strategic communications and partnerships for Explore Edmonton, said more events are trickling into the city.

“There are several hundred positions on the temporary basis posted right now. We’ve got about 250 yet to fill, and that’s going to support events from the midway and beyond going into the fall,” St. Pierre said.

There’s also a belief among many, like St. Pierre, that an influx of vacant roles is making job seekers more selective.

“I think there’s a lot of questions now about what employers are paying, benefits, whether it’s a temporary or permanent position, and you’ve got a lot of people hiring at once,” St. Pierre said.

Read more: COVID-19 has caused some Edmonton servers to leave the industry while others work longer days

St. Pierre said the hope is to get more Edmontonians working again, but if there’s anything the pandemic taught businesses, it’s to prepare for anything.

“You might see me down here at the cotton candy machine with a hat on, so all hands on deck,” St. Pierre said.

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As for the unemployed, it’s recommended that you don’t wait too long to send in an application for a job.

“The longer you stay unemployed, the harder it is to become employed. There’s stigma with that,” Culo said.

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