Help wanted: Employers struggling to fill job vacancies

Help wanted: Employers struggling to fill job vacancies
File Photo
A worker serves a customer at 2% Jazz in Victoria.

The job market is hot — many employers from across different industries, including the hospitality and tourism sector, are struggling with hiring staff.

While some suggest it is due to a labour shortage, others say it’s a sign to change how industries operate.

“All the people I talk to in the industry are really suffering from no one showing up for interviews, no one showing up for their first day at work. It really feels like there’s a labour shortage,” said the owner of 2% Jazz Coffee Sam Jones.

But Jim Stanford, an economist and the director of the Centre for Future Work, refuses to call it that.

“There’s no way we have run out of workers,” he said.

“The basic laws of supply and demand are clear. And if these industries do want to hire more people and keep them — that’s the big challenge — they’ll have to offer better wages, conditions and stable hours,” he added.

That’s exactly what Jones is offering to his employees — a starting wage of about $25 an hour.

Even if it cuts into his profit, he said it’s worth it if it means keeping his employees long-term.

Jones added that others businesses need to follow suit.

“These jobs aren’t glamorous jobs. They’re hard jobs. The employers expect the world from their employees for minimum wage, in the hospitality industry at least. And it’s high time we stopped thinking about minimum wage and what it takes to live,” he said.

Cristen DeCarolis, the owner of Pizzeria Prima Stradahas, had to reduce hours due to a lack of workers.

With so many businesses looking for people at the same time, she said it’s been a struggle hiring the ideal candidates.

“For us, it means that it’s taking longer to hire people. I think there are a lot of jobs out there and a lot of people are making some very attractive offers,” he said.

BC Ferries is also struggling to hire.

In a statement to CHEK News, the company said it’s “currently affected by a global shortage of experienced mariners.”

“We are actively recruiting for approximately 60 officers and 50 other key positions to create even greater redundancy in the system. Unfortunately, the global shortage means qualified mariners are very difficult to find,” the statement read.

Herbert Schuetze, an associate professor for economics at the University of Victoria, said CERB might be partly the reason why there are fewer bodies in the workforce.

“There have been some suggestions that the extension of CERB has resulted in a reduction in employment — particularly at the lower income levels. That would certainly be expected,” he told CHEK News via email.

“There may also be a reluctance for some to return to work as they have adjusted to their new economic situation. The increase in demand for labour has also been rapid. It may just be that it takes a while for the labour market to respond to the increase in demand,” he added.

Tahmina AzizTahmina Aziz

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