Toronto

Amid labour shortage, employers make their pitch for new staff ahead of a busy holiday season

Yorkdale Shopping Centre hosted a job fair on Thursday amid an unusually challenging environment for employers  — they can't seem to find workers, according to human resources professionals who make their living recruiting employees. 

More than 20 retailers at Yorkdale Mall look to fill some 200 wide-ranging positions

William Correia, the director at Yorkdale Shopping Centre, says the aim of the fair was to support more than 20 retailers seeking to fill more than 200 wide-ranging positions. (CBC)

It's a job seekers' market right now with Canada's unemployment rate at the lowest it's been since the pandemic started, experts say, and that has employers making their pitch ahead of the busy holiday season.

Yorkdale Shopping Centre hosted a job fair on Thursday amid an unusually challenging environment for companies  — the fair is held annually but this year the need is even greater, say some.

The reason: Many retailers can't seem to find workers, according to human resources professionals who make their living recruiting employees. 

William Correia, the director of the giant mall located at Dufferin Street and Highway 401, said the aim of Thursday's event was to support more than 20 retailers seeking to fill more than 200 wide-ranging positions.

"The holiday season is upon us, a lot of our retailers are looking for temporary staff," Correia told CBC Toronto. "We have some retailers that have just opened that are looking to staff up for the first time, so we thought this would be a great addition to their search in finding the staff they need."

Daisy Kaur is the owner and president of Express, a company located in Pickering, Ont. that helps companies find qualified staff. She said businesses are facing a challenge when it comes to recruiting.

Hiring nearly 'impossible' right now, says expert

"The employers right now … are looking for people and we have employers all across the board, in many industries, all the way from health care, transportation, construction, obviously hospitality and the restaurants that have opened jobs," Kaur told CBC's Metro Morning Thursday.

"They're trying to entice employees. The market is so competitive, they may even offer an employee a new role, and if they don't move fast enough, they will lose them very quickly. It's just almost impossible for them to hire right now," Kaur added.

Brandy Joseph was among scores of job seekers who turned up at Yorkdale to meet with potential employers.

Joseph said she ran her own business prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but now she's looking for full-time employment.

"I got to interview with the employers that I wanted to," she told CBC Toronto. "Everybody was really friendly; they gave great insights to their company and why everybody would want to work there."

Jay Rijal said he worked at the director level but got laid off because of COVID-19.

"I'm doing a consulting job but I came here to see … [if there's] anything that's going to interest me," he said.

But he said there were no senior-level positions at Yorkdale matching his experience and qualifications.

"It's a difficult time but I can't blame employers because they don't have revenue coming in so they're not going to hire too many people."

Meanwhile, Christopher Ayala said he "just wanted to see what was out there, who's looking around, just to get a little bit of experience."

"I am looking to move up, I am definitely looking to move up, I am trying to see how far I can get," he said.

Christopher Ayala was among scores of job seekers at Yorkdale on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021. (CBC)

'There has to be work-life balance'

Kaur says companies have to compete for talent right now — and to do that, they need to adapt to changes in the market. 

"It's not only about wages and benefits, it's about recognizing that there has to be a work-life balance. There's family commitments that employees have, and it's being able to support all of those and truly just becoming an employer of choice."

Like Kaur, Jermaine Murray — a career coach and technical recruiter who runs a company called Jupiter H-R — said a lot of "employers are struggling to hire right now."

He said a lot of people are starting to identify opportunities where they have transferable skills that would allow them to get a job with a company that's suited in the tech space. 

"These jobs tend to have better benefits … and to have better working conditions," Murray said on Metro Morning. 

"A lot of them were remote during the pandemic, and the average salary for your average tech worker is actually greater than what the average Canadian income is for an individual."

According to Murray, "employees have a lot more power now than they ever had," adding that "the dynamic has changed."

"It used to be ... because the employers are the ones giving out the funds or the means of living, they had all the power. But now, because there are so many options, it's kind of like a 50-50 partnership," Murray said.

"You know, employees start to realize the value they bring to employers because without them, the business can't move. So who really is in power, the person that pays well, the person that keeps the business moving forward?"

With files from Natalie Kalata and Metro Morning

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