Job vacancies have been high for months in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, with many local employers seeking workers to fill more than 100 positions.

Employers have been posting ads online, but say workers in the area aren't interested, preferring positions at the Muskrat Falls site instead.

Goronwy Price

Goronwy Price says he's had to bring in workers from Newfoundland to fill job vacancies at the airport in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. (CBC)

Goronwy Price, operations manager at the local airport, said he's been steadily losing staff at all levels.

"The turnover and staff at that level is huge, and it continues to be an interesting day-to-day event," he said.

"We have to come up with some creative ways to sort of maintain your workforce, and the other part is you're not going to promote your creative ways because if you do, everyone will use them and then you'll be caught in the same challenge on the other side."

Dean Clarke, with Churchill Construction Ltd., said while he doesn't have a problem with the mega-project, it certainly makes it difficult to find staff.

"We had an inspector estimator that was on staff, gone across the river working for Nalcor, gone for $120,000, $130,000 a year," he said.

"When you're in the construction business, when you're competing against local companies for the work, for all the men you have on your staff, you just can't compete against that."

Temporary foreign workers may be solution

Clarke said having access to temporary foreign workers would likely resolve most of the employment problems in the region.

Dean Clarke

Dean Clarke says he'd be willing to bring in temporary foreign workers with proper qualifications to fill job openings at Churchill Construction, if he could access the program. (CBC)

"I would see the temporary foreign workers program as being a good program," he said.

"It offers a lot of assistance to a lot of businesses in town, and again that could be on a short-term or long-term basis, depending on what the Canadian government's programs are going to be for these people that are coming in to off-set the labour force."

Earlier this year, the federal government conducted an overhaul of the program. A moratorium on hiring was lifted in June, but sweeping changes were made.

Sterling Peyton, president of the Labrador North Chamber of Commerce, said without access to those foreign workers, there isn't much that local employers can do.

"I don't think we're going to be able to hire to full capacity in the service sector, in particular here in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, unless we have access to that program," said Peyton.

Both Price and Clarke have hired workers from Newfoundland to fill some positions, and both said it seems workers will have to come from elsewhere in the province — or country — to fill other jobs.