Staffing challenge only expected to get tougher

I manage a local hotel and I constantly struggle to find and keep good people. Are there any programs available to help small business owners? — Hopeless Hotelier

Dear Working Wise: I manage a local hotel and I constantly struggle to find and keep good people. Are there any programs available to help small business owners? — Hopeless Hotelier

Dear Hopeless: Alberta’s unemployment rate has dropped to 4.5 per cent — the second-lowest rate in the country — and there are 10,000 more Albertans working today than a year ago.

While this is good news for job seekers, the ongoing challenge of attracting, training and retaining staff in a competitive labour market can be exhausting for hiring managers. And the staffing challenge is only expected to get tougher as waves of our most experienced workers begin to retire.

Due to our growing economy and aging workforce, Alberta is expected to face a shortage of up to 114,000 skilled workers within the decade.

Fortunately, there are a number of free and low-cost services available to help Alberta employers.

• Try posting a free job ad on the Canada-Alberta Job Bank website at www.jobbank.gc.ca.

• Take advantage of free local job fairs and hiring events. Employer Connections events, for example, are mini job fairs that allow you to profile your business and job opportunities to local career counsellors and job seekers — http://humanservices.alberta.ca/jobfairs.

• Check out the staff attraction and retention tips in the Employer Tool Kit — http://eae.alberta.ca/labour-and-immigration/employer-toolkit.aspx.

• Post a free job ad or find out about upcoming job fairs and staff-recruitment workshops for employers on local Alberta Works social media channels, including:

– http://twitter.com/@CalgaryJobFeed;

– www.facebook.com/calgaryjobsfeed;

– www.facebook.com/CentralAlbertaJobs;

– www.facebook.com/fortmcmurrayjobs;

– www.facebook.com/Lethbridgejobs;

– www.facebook.com/MedicineHatJobs.

Or get in touch with your local business and industry liaison. Alberta Human Services has business and industry liaison staff who specialize in helping employers tackle staffing challenges and navigate all of the available employer services.

A business and industry liaison can you help by:

• Providing information on how you can tap into hidden labour pools;

• Offering helpful publications full of staff attraction and retention tips;

• Informing you of upcoming low-cost staff recruitment best-practice workshops;

• Guiding you toward useful statistics like wage surveys and labour market forecasts;

• Explaining how the Disability Related Employment Supports program helps employers hire and retain employees with disabilities; and

• Connecting you with local hiring events and opportunities.

To speak with a business and industry liaison, call your nearest Alberta Works office. You can find it at http://humanservices.alberta.ca/offices.

Working Wise is compiled by Charles Strachey, a manager with Alberta Human Services, for general information. Strachey can be contacted at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca.