Almost 34,000 positions unfilled in Alberta as job vacancy rate rises

Employers are having a hard time filling jobs in Alberta, which could be another of sign of economic recovery in the province, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

'Still a long way to go before it gets back to where things were in 2014'

There are 33,900 unfilled jobs in Alberta, according to a survey published this week by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. (Reed Saxon/Associated Press)

Employers are having a hard time filling jobs in Alberta, which could be another of sign of economic recovery in the province, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

In the third quarter of 2017, there were 33,900 unfilled jobs in Alberta, according to the CFIB Help Wanted Report.

That translates to a 2.2 per cent vacancy rate — the proportion of unfilled jobs relative to all jobs available in the private sector, CFIB said in a release.

In the second quarter of 2017, there were 28,500 unfilled jobs and a job vacancy rate of 1.8 per cent.

Skilled workers left Alberta

Construction companies in Alberta are having an especially hard time finding the skilled workers they need, according to Jason Gillespie, who owns Pathfinder Recruitment Group, an agency specializing in the construction sector. 

He says it seems skilled workers left Alberta when the recession hit and are still reluctant to come back.

"A lot of people aren't wanting to take risks right now, because of the risky nature in Alberta, or at least that's the perception," he said.

Gillespie says other in-demand skilled workers include architectural technicians, interior designers, comptrollers, accountants and cost estimators.

CFIB polls its members every quarter to find out how many jobs have been sitting unfilled for at least four months.

Alberta's surplus of almost 34,000 jobs is still only about half of what it was right before the recession.

'Still a long way to go'

CFIB chief economist Ted Mallett says the numbers are an indication that business is picking up again in Alberta.

"But there's still a long way to go before it gets back to where things were in 2014," he said.

Nationally, CFIB says a lack of skilled workers has created a labour shortage of 361,700 jobs — the highest number of unfilled private sector jobs ever recorded in Canada.

The highest job vacancy rate is in British Columbia, where the CFIB survey found there are 60,000 unfilled jobs.

In Ontario there are 149,000 vacant jobs with a vacancy rate of three per cent.

Mallet says across the country, retail, hospitality and construction are experiencing the largest labour shortages.