Edmonton

Employment seeking Albertans flock to Edmonton job and career fair

Over the next two days over 10,000 people are expected to flock to the Edmonton Expo centre to see the over 60 exhibitors set up at the fair at the 20th annual Alberta Employment and Career Fair.

'It seems like [the province] has fallen on bad times but it seems like it’s recuperating'

Over the next two days over 10,000 people are expected to flock to the Edmonton Expo Centre for the 20th annual Alberta Employment and Career Fair. (CBC)

The Edmonton Expo Centre was packed with an eclectic mix of people all sharing one thing on Friday — they're looking for a job. 

Russell Wesolowski, a tradesman, was one of the many there seeking employment. Wesolowski has been working in Alberta for the last 13 years and said the current job market "was the worst I've seen it since 1992."

"I'm a first-year pipefitter apprentice with a blue book that's four years old. That hasn't gotten me anywhere," he said.

"[I'm] trying to figure out what else is out there, there is nothing out there."

So, Wesolowski decided to try his luck at the 20th annual Alberta Employment and Career Fair.

Russell Wesolowski said this is the worst job market he has seen since 1992. (CBC)

Over the next two days over 10,000 people are expected to flock to the Edmonton Expo centre to see the over 60 exhibitors set up at the fair.

It seems like [the province] has fallen on bad times but it seems like it's recuperating, so that's a good thing.- Curtis Libby

Curtis Libby, who is between jobs, said he came to the event because he was told there it would be a good opportunity and so far had liked what he found. 

"It seems like [the province] has fallen on bad times but it seems like it's recuperating, so that's a good thing," he said. 

"It is what it is, right?"

'Still jobs out there'

Erin Devlin, a student recruitment advisor with Women Building Futures, sat at her booth with a waiting smile hoping to speak to some possible applicants.  

Devlin said 88 per cent of WBF's students have been able to find employment. She said their secret is studying the job market and targeting areas in Alberta that are currently seeking workers.

Erin Devlin, a student recruitment advisor with Women Building Futures, said 88 per cent of WFB's students have found employment. (CBC)

"We've seen a definite decline in working construction, our women we're training for where the jobs are, in the trades that are in demand right now," said Devlin. 

"There are still jobs out there in construction, there are certain trades that are in demand – workers are needed."

'Huge value'

The fair is a combination of both a career and a job fair, meaning that post-secondary institutions have set up shop as well. The largest exhibitor in the room was NAIT. 

We definitely feel there is huge value for attending these events.- Malcolm Haines

Malcolm Haines, NAIT's dean of their school of skilled trades, said that the school realizes the importance of these sort of fairs. 

"We do play a very important role in fulfilling the workforce development needs for certainly the Edmonton area and much of the province," said Haines. "We definitely feel there is huge value for attending these events." 

Malcolm Haines is Nait’s dean for their school of skilled trades. Nait was one of the largest exhibitors at the job fair. (CBC)

Haines said enrollment in several programs directly related to the oilsands, like welding and pipefitting, have gone down but most of the programs have remained static. 

"There are several areas where certainly in some of the construction areas and the service areas where the numbers haven't fluctuated at all or even gone up."

'To be expected'

Charles Strachey, who helped organize the event, said that he believe it was a fantastic turnout. 

Charles Strachey, who helped organize the event, said he thought Friday's turnout was "fantastic." (CBC)

The exhibitors came from a wide variety of sectors, including financial, transportation and construction, however, there was one obvious sector missing. 

"Not a lot of energy sector employers but that is to be expected," said Strachey.  But, he added, not all is lost for someone looking for work in Alberta's capital. 

"Certainly Edmonton has a stronger job market than other parts of the province right now. They have a lower unemployment rate. Here today we have almost 1,000 jobs up for grabs."

With files from Nicolas Pelletier

now