Chamber says some Charlottetown area businesses need more workers to reach 'potential'

Some Charlottetown area businesses are finding it more challenging to find workers — particularly moving into the busy summer season.

'We're hearing that it's becoming more and more challenging to recruit and retain those workers'

Some businesses put up the help wanted sign to generate word of mouth awareness that they have positions open. (Laura Meader/CBC)

The Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce is concerned that it's getting harder and harder for some businesses to find workers — particularly moving into the busy summer season.

"Front line cashiers, workers in the tourism and hospitality industry whether it be housekeepers, servers, maintenance folks," said Penny Walsh-McGuire, CEO of the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce.

"We're hearing that it's becoming more and more challenging to recruit and retain those workers."

Penny Walsh-McGuire, CEO of the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce, says not a week goes by without a member reaching out looking for more staff. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Some businesses, like Juice Co. in Charlottetown, have enough staff for the downtown store — but are still looking for workers for their other location.

"We're always constantly trying to find ones that really want to work and have the energy to work. Customer service is a big thing for us," said owner Sharie Hughes.

Always looking for good workers

She said it can be stressful this time of year for small businesses looking to hire more staff, as workers could be waiting for other job offers.

Businesses are using a variety of methods like social media, posting online and even the simple sign in the window to get the word out about job openings.

Sharie Hughes with Juice Co. in Charlottetown says while they are fully staffed at their downtown location, they are always on the lookout for people who are eager to work. (Laura Meader/CBC)

The summer staff has been hired at The Anne of Green Gables Store in Charlottetown, where they look for people that are a good fit for the busy location.

"We are steady every day of the year. We are open seven days a week," said manager Brenda Myers.

"Through the summer, cruise ships come in, we're boom, boom, boom, busy."

She said it has become more difficult over the years to find the right staff.

Manager Brenda Myers at The Anne of Green Gables Store in Charlottetown says finding the right fit is important to keep up with the busy location. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Walsh-McGuire said workforce development is one of the chamber's top priorities.

"Small businesses, medium businesses are the backbone of our economy here in the province," she said. "And if we can't find workers it's really hard for our productivity to be where it needs to be."

The changing Island demographics are also a contributing factor, she said, as more people are leaving the workforce, more needs to be done to ensure there are new workers to fill their place.

Walsh-McGuire says the issue is not going to change as businesses will need more and more workers in the province, particularly during the busy summer season. (Laura Meader/CBC)

She says if businesses can't hire staff they can't grow or expand — or sometimes even stay open — and the economy suffers.

"I think the shortages is significant enough that businesses can't reach their potential if they don't have employees and reaching that potential means ensuring that they're contributing to a strong economy."

More workers needed on P.E.I.

Walsh-McGuire said finding ways to keep young people on the Island, allowing international students to work more and increased immigration could help.

As for the ramping up for this year's busy season, she expects it to be an ongoing challenge for some businesses to find staff.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Laura Meader


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