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Finding quality employees hard nationwide, according to CFIB survey

Nine in 10 small business owners can't find qualified candidates

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The lack of workers to be found in Whistler — of any quality — has been making news for weeks.

But according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), good help is getting hard to find no matter where you set up shop in Canada.

A new survey released by the CFIB shows that while a majority of small business owners said their workers are the most important factor in their success, they're struggling to find quality workers.

"Two thirds of our members say that their employees are a critical element to their success, but at the same time, two thirds of them are also saying that they're having difficulty hiring," said Richard Truscott, the CFIB's VP of British Columbia and Alberta.

"And of those, almost nine in 10 say that it's due to a lack of qualified candidates. Those are some troubling statistics, there's no question."

Unrealistically high salary expectations provide another challenge when hiring, according to half of all survey respondents, while applicants failing to show up for scheduled job interviews was a problem for a quarter of all respondents.

"It's good on one hand that business owners realize how important their employees are to their success and the success of their business, but on the other hand, they're having a devil of a time trying to find enough qualified people to work in those businesses," Truscott said.

Truscott's advice for business owners looking to attract quality candidates will sound familiar to anyone who's been following the labour situation in Whistler: "They need to continue to focus on making sure that their businesses are an attractive place to work, that they have flexibility in the work hours, that they're thinking about those benefits and those days off," he said.

"They're going to have to double down, and they're going to have to increase their efforts to try to find people."

Enhancing efforts around recruitment has been at the heart of the message put forth by the Whistler Chamber of Commerce as well, though some efforts to do so have been unsuccessful to this point.

Rick Hale, owner of Avalanche Pizza, recently began advertising for a manager position — the job boasts a salary of $40,000 (with bonuses of up to $10,000), a free season pass and mornings off.

Surely the enticing offer has brought down an avalanche of eager and qualified resumes?

"Not really, no," Hale said.

"I was kind of surprised. It brought a lot of talk, but no one has really come to the plate with a lot of experience, no."

Despite the attention Whistler's labour issue has received, nothing has changed, Hale said.

"The tourists are seeing it. You hear their comments," he said. "The hotel wasn't clean, the hot tub wasn't clean, there's no one around to answer questions. They paid a lot of money to come here, and they're not satisfied. It's very discouraging."

But as another busy summer season turns to fall, Hale isn't getting too dejected.

"We'll keep going on," he said.

"We've been around for awhile, so we'll look forward to a good winter and hopefully there's lots of snow."

The CFIB's full survey can be found online at www.cfib-fcei.ca/cfib-documents/rr3364.pdf.

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