What a difference a year makes.
Last spring, employers were scrambling to fill vacant positions. Now, workers are pounding the pavement in search of jobs.
Ken Hoskin has had a bird’s-eye view of the transformation.
Executive director of Employment Placement and Support Services (EPSS) in Red Deer, his non-profit organization provides a variety of free services to job seekers: career and employment counselling, workplace and skill training, and employment search resources, among others.
“As you can guess, right now we’re not hurting for people looking for work,” said Hoskin. “A year ago it was the total opposite.”
Those contacting EPSS range from skilled to unskilled, experienced to inexperienced, and educated to uneducated. But most are victims of economic circumstances.
“When unemployment rates were very, very low, people who weren’t working, typically there was a reason why they weren’t working. Now that’s not necessarily the case.
“There are a number of very qualified people that we’re working with that have found themselves, through no fault of their own, unemployed.”
Hoskin stressed that EPSS also continues to provide services to employers, explaining that its mandate is to support both sides of the labour market.
Employers can access help with things like workplace training, candidate pre-screening, and assistance with job maintenance issues. EPSS also has a job board and private interview space.
Employer services are also free, said Hoskin, with EPSS receiving funding from the provincial and federal governments.
The recent shift in the labour market is nothing new to Central Alberta.
“I’ve been here since ‘90, and it teeter-totters back and forth all the time. Either there are way more job-seekers that there are jobs, or there are way more jobs that there are job-seekers.”
However, many displaced workers who are used to having their pick of jobs are not familiar with support services like EPSS. That’s prompted the agency to organize an open house at its Westview Business Centre premises on Thursday, June 25.
Scheduled for 2 to 5 p.m., the event will give Hoskin and his staff an opportunity to show off its offices at No. 200, 4315 55th Ave., which they moved into last November. At 17,000 square feet, it’s nearly double the space downtown that they operated out of previously.
EPSS will also host an open house at its satellite office in Innisfail this Friday, June 19, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information about the open houses or EPSS’s services, call 403-343-6249.