Being the new kid on the block is working out well for staff, individuals, and local businesses, seeking employment services help at the new WorkBC office in downtown Trail.
Since buying and renovating their new digs in a prime spot on Bay Avenue across from the Riverfront Centre, Kootenay Career Development Society has assisted hundreds of locals after taking over the WorkBC contract for the Lower Columbia on April 1.
“I’ve been totally heart-warmed by how positive people have been about this service so visible in the downtown core,” Jocelyn Carver, the society’s executive director, told the Trail Times.
“All of the employers we have spoken to have talked about the need that they have around recruitment, on-boarding, and staffing, they’ve been really open with us about how we can help them,” she said.
“And that is a really important part of our new contract. Clients are the people who come in the door who need support finding work, and our other clients are employers who need support finding great new employees.”
She emphasized that the WorkBC office in Trail does not go it alone. The service has two key partners, those being Community Futures of Greater Trail, which delivers the self-employment program, and Career Development Services, providers of customized counselling for those with high barriers.
“Between all of us, as three partners, we have around 350 folks in the Greater Trail area that are receiving services.”
Interestingly, the major area of employment needs in Trail and the Greater Area have grown well beyond the big industries of mining and forestry.
The focus is on sectors like hospitality and tourism, though foremost is what Carver calls “human services” such as jobs in health care and education.
“One of our (immediate) interests is definitely going to be winter recreation,” she said. “Supporting the folks at Red, and the hotels, to figure out what kind of staffing they need in the winter.”
Those types of jobs have to be filled in advance of the first snowfall, so in September, the Trail office will be hosting a Career Fair specifically for the recreational and hospitality service industries. Details on the event will soon be announced.
Another stream of in-demand jobs, now and in the future, are in all levels of the medical profession.
”There is the hospital, of course,” Carver said. “And I would say things like seniors care facilities, nursing care and the whole human services, people supporting other people. That’s a really significant sector in our community that has a few different employers, (whether it’s) the regional hospital or private operators, it’s huge,” she explained.
“What we are seeing in the labour market is lots of retirement and actually not enough people moving into those sectors to fill the job openings that are going to be there, so there is real opportunity both in recreation and tourism and in health services in the community.”
Trade professions are another sector likely to experience that same “gap” in coming years.
“We are now in a wave of major retirement, baby boomers are retiring, reducing their hours, or maybe moving more into a consulting or mentorship part of their life,” Carver said. “Those positions are opening up, and at a provincial level, they are expecting a significant gap between the folks who are leaving and the folks who are coming into the workforce, so what are we going to do about that actual difference?”
To better introduce their WorkBC services to the region, staff is also planning to host an open house next month.
“It’s been an incredible privilege to be here, especially in the welcoming we have received and in the people sharing with us where they want to see the Lower Columbia grow,” Carver said. “Our human capital, I think, is the most important capital there is. And if we can help get people in this community invested, so they can grow, there is no better return.”