By Clare Ogilvie
The labour shortage in Whistler has prompted the Chamber of Commerce to hire a full-time recruiting specialist to help develop hiring strategies for members.
“Businesses are struggling to keep the business they have got and it really comes down to the staffing issues, and so what we did was hire a recruiting specialist,” said chamber president Louise Lundy.
Randall Butler is an HR specialist who previously owned his own international recruiting agency. He has spent the last 10 years sourcing talent worldwide.
For now Butler is working in Vancouver drumming up potential employees to come to the chamber’s job fair Oct. 31 and Nov 1. But by November he will be in Whistler.
“His role this month is to try and get as many people to that job fair as possible so that all employers will have someone to pick from,” said Lundy.
“When he comes to town there will be meetings with various employers (and we will) survey our membership to try and get as much feedback as we can from employers as to what their issues are, what kind of employees they are looking for, and what are the gaps in labour that we need to know about.”
A recent labour market report by go2, the B.C. tourism industry’s human resources association, concluded that labour shortages in the Sea to Sky corridor will get much worse over the next decade. It found that tourism operators need to attract an average of 3,500 workers every year from outside the region. This number does not include any of the skilled trades needed in the valley including landscapers, construction workers, mechanics, electricians, plumbers and so on.
Whistler, like other places across the country, is finding the labour shortage is not particular to them. It is a national and even international phenomenon. It is being driven by many factors, including an aging workforce, highly competitive employment fields, fewer young people entering the workforce, and in the Sea to Sky region, the high cost of living.
The chamber strategies will focus on several different fronts, including targeting new workers, such as students, in the hopes of drawing them to Whistler in the future, expanding recruitment nationally and internationally, helping employers learn ways to retain workers, working with partners on affordable accommodation and transportation and determining the labour requirements for the 2010 Games.
Lundy said while the main focus of the strategy will be the tourism sector other segments of the community will also be included, such as construction.