Experience and perception are the two biggest problems for the Fort McMurray labour market.
That’s according to Mark Baxter, with Outlook Market Research, whose team recently conducted a report into the job numbers around the community.
They interviewed over 300 workers and 100 local businesses. In total, from interviews and surveys, they had around 750 points of contact.
Baxter tells Mix News the common response they got from employers is there are jobs but local workers may not be qualified.
“We have many employers saying to us, it’s not that we can’t get applicants, it’s not that there are no jobs out there, the applicants we getting aren’t experienced. We talked to a couple employers who put out applications for professional related jobs and trade-related jobs, they’re getting 200 applications but none of the people have the qualifications they need.”
Baxter adds employers should have a training methodology to help new employees become better suited for open positions.
The report highlights experience as another problem businesses are facing.
Baxter says recruiting from outside the community is becoming an issue because of the way Fort McMurray is perceived.
“After the downturn in oil prices and the fire last year, there is a perception that Fort McMurray isn’t open for business and jobs aren’t there,” said Baxter.
He notes the wildfires biggest impact on the market could be the lack of housing options which once again brings up the way Fort McMurray is being perceived.
“By definition in Fort McMurray, if there is not enough qualified people to fill the specific jobs than you have to look outside the market but if there is a perception out there that there isn’t enough housing, enough health services, recreation, it’s harder to attract those people.”
This report is only in Phase One. The next step is to develop a labour strategy to help mitigate the gap in experience. The last step is communication and promotions to help employers and employees find a healthy median for jobs and experience.