Help wanted! Red Deer job fair kicks off at Sheraton

Last year, Russ Psiurski was among the job-seekers pondering their options at the Central Alberta Career and Job Fair.

New to Red Deer Philippe Bertin of Bathurst

New to Red Deer Philippe Bertin of Bathurst

Last year, Russ Psiurski was among the job-seekers pondering their options at the Central Alberta Career and Job Fair.

On Wednesday, he was one of the exhibitors chatting up prospective employees at the Sheraton Red Deer Hotel.

Co-ordinator/administrator of Burnco Rock Products Ltd.’s Red Deer retail centre, Psiurski recalled how he happened upon the Burnco booth while checking out employment options.

“I came here just to see what was out there,” said the longtime music teacher.

He liked what he heard, and after a couple interviews accepted work with the landscape products company.

Now that Psiurski has come full circle, he appreciates the opportunity to meet potential workers in person. It gives him a better chance to assess them and to describe the benefits of working at Burnco.

Francine Lefebvre, who was looking after Olymel’s table not far away, agreed that face time is valuable in the recruitment game. Not only are many people not familiar with the job opportunities at the Red Deer pork processing plant, some don’t even know about the company.

Lefebvre, Olymel’s foreign worker co-ordinator, had collected dozens of resumés by mid-afternoon. She’d also sent some people to the plant for interviews — and job offers.

The turnaround wasn’t that quick for Don Muldoon, outreach recruiter with the Calgary Police Service. He was content to plant a seed in the minds of the young people he spoke with that law enforcement might be a good career option.

Often, said Jennifer Dagsvik, a regional communications manager with Alberta Human Services, the personal contact of a job fair results in employers hiring people and employees accepting jobs that they might otherwise not consider. And that’s a good thing.

“It’s really important, especially in this labour market, to ensure that we have employers who say, ‘OK, maybe I have to open my eyes to a female, an older worker.’”

Corey Giesbrecht, whose company Outbound Productions organizes the twice-yearly Central Alberta Career and Job Fair, said that a resumé may not provide a true indication of what an applicant is really like. But a handshake and a conversation can.

There was certainly no shortage of organizations seeking to meet workers at Wednesday’s job fair. Registrations closed earlier than usual, with 85 employers and 15 service providers filling the room.

Giesbrecht estimated by mid-afternoon that the event would draw about 1,650 attendees.

Psiurski said traffic at Burnco’s exhibit was good, although he wasn’t seeing as many young people as he would have liked. He speculated that many have been drawn to the energy sector.

“It’s just a different beast,” said Psiurski of the lure of the oilpatch. “It’s for the young single male, looking to make a substantial amount of money in a fairly short period of time.

“This is more career-orientated.”

Muldoon, who has attended job fairs across the province and beyond, agreed that recruiting young people in Central Alberta can be a challenge.

“Being here in Red Deer it’s a little bit different with the oil and gas. Policing probably isn’t at the forefront.”

Amber Sommer, a human resources and payroll administrator with Ensenco Energy Services of Calgary, said she’d connected with some promising prospects at the Red Deer job fair.

“It’s been good and steady.”

Sommer added that the directional drilling and production testing company that she works for has to recruit continuously to keep pace with its labour needs, and job fairs are a good place to do that.

Psiurski said one advantage that companies like Burnco have is that they offer stable employment close to home.

Dagsvik added that some job-seekers aren’t motivated by money, but want to settle into a long-term career.

Another segment of the workforce not looking to the oilpatch are older people.

Lefebvre remarked that she’d had a number of retirees ask her about part-time work at Olymel.