Lots of work available at SkillsPEI job fairs

It was the first of four job fairs that SkillsPEI hosts across the province in the month of April looking to connect employers with potential employees.

Organizers say more than 1,300 jobs are available

SkillsPEI holds the job fairs across the Island as an opportunity to connect job seekers with employers may be hiring. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Curious and job-seeking Islanders attended a SkillsPEI job fair at the Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown on Monday.

It was the first of four job fairs that SkillsPEI hosts across the province in the month of April looking to connect employers with potential employees.

Organizers say 1,300 jobs are available and only employers who are actively seeking workers were allowed to set up booths at the job fair, which was good news for those looking for work on the Island.

"Getting tired of flying, getting tired of travelling," said Lance Fleming, an electrician who's worked a lot in western Canada. "I'd rather have something a little more stable, a little more long term."

Fleming said the wages may be lower in P.E.I. but the quality of life is better.

Those with experience in the trades are in luck as many employers can't find enough people.

"It's a very urgent need to find the right people and to put the right people in the right positions," David Arsenault with Arsenault Bros. Construction, who had a booth at the job fair. "The market right now I think it's as crazy or busy as it's ever been."

There was a "Try a Trade" section of the job fair where people could get their hands onto different trades.

Some chefs from Holland College's Culinary Institute of Canada were putting together a chocolatey sample of why their industry was 'sweet.' (Laura Meader/CBC)

People could try virtual welding, riding a powered lift, carpentry, wearing safety equipment, sampling chocolates and even creating plumbing projects.

"There are a lot more trades being represented and a lot more hands-on for those who are interested, which are mostly students," said Blair Aitken with SkillsPEI. "What we are trying to do is expose the students to the opportunity in the career of the trades."

Opportunity for growth

The province wanted to hammer home the message to the high school students bused into the event that there were different options available after graduation.

"If it's explored, they'll see there's a real opportunity for growth and there's a real opportunity to make a career out of trades," Aitken said.

There was also an opportunity for people to get hands on with different trades, like this area set up by the Holland College carpentry program. (Laura Meader/CBC)

That message had a more concrete echo from those seeking skilled workers.

"Presently we're looking at over 180 workers needed in the construction industry on Prince Edward Island so the demand is great at this time and looking at the industry itself, it's very vibrant for the next number of years," said Sam Sanderson, general manager of the Construction Association of Prince Edward Island.

New residents to P.E.I. were also exploring the work options available, trying to find opportunities in a new country.

(Laura Meader/CBC)

"It's difficult because I have my studies," said Sandra Salinas, who moved from Monterrey, Mexico, in the fall. "I have a major in accounting and a masters degree, but in Mexico, so here in Canada I have to study again so it is kind of difficult."

Salinas said having good language skills was very important but felt hopeful after getting the chance to meet the potential employers.

SkillsPEI will host three other fairs across P.E.I. this April in Summerside, Montague, O'Leary, and expects hundreds of job offers will be made because of them.

More P.E.I. News

With files from Laura Meader