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Post-pandemic disconnect between employers and job seekers in Kootenays looms larger: report

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
July 4th, 2023

What a difference a pandemic makes.

Employers in the Kootenay region are having a harder time finding qualified candidates in a post-pandemic world than anywhere else in the province.

According to statistics released by the B.C. Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction in an insights report — Addressing the Labour Market Gap — 79 per cent of employers in the Kootenay region reported difficulty finding qualified candidates now compared to prior to the pandemic, compared to an average of 60 per cent across the province.

“This survey points out several areas where there is a disconnect between the efforts and expectations of employers and job seekers,” the authors of the report noted in the conclusion. “Both employers and job seekers are having a harder time finding each other post-pandemic.”

The Thompson-Okanagan region was close behind the Kootenay region at 78 per cent, as was the Northeast (74 per cent).

On the other side of the economic coin, job seekers in the Kootenay region were least likely to report (28 per cent) that it was harder to find a job than before the pandemic. On average, less than 40 per cent of job seekers across the province said it was harder to find jobs.

The highest proportion of job seekers who reported it was harder to find jobs was in the Northeast (52 per cent), Thompson-Okanagan (43 per cent) and Cariboo (42 per cent).

 

Top challenges

Finding qualified candidates that matched the job description was identified as a top challenge by employers in the Kootenay region, while finding jobs that fit their qualifications ranked as the third most common challenge for job seekers across the Kootenay region.

The second biggest challenge for employers in the Kootenay was finding applicants in the region where their business was located. However, finding jobs in the region where they live was the most common challenge for job seekers.

For job seekers, the most common challenge was finding jobs that met their salary expectations.

 

Recruitment

The main hindrances for Kootenay employers were related to the amount of time it took to be ready for recruitment.

At least two-in-five employers said that four specific tasks were “difficult:” defining salary ranges and offers; managing administrative tasks associated with hiring, such as correspondence and scheduling; dealing with resumes and/or cover letters from candidates who were not qualified for the position; and having adequate time to respond to successful applicants.

Some signi cant regional di erences were observed in these challenging tasks.

Nearly half of the Kootenay employers (46 per cent) identified it as challenging to define salary ranges and offers in the current economic environment.

For job seekers, over 81 per cent of those in the Kootenay region found it more difficult to negotiate salaries and offers with the cost of inflation — the second highest rate in the province (Cariboo, 83 per cent).

Networking for opportunities was also flagged as a problem for job seekers in the Kootenay region, and at 77 per cent it was by far the highest percentage in the province. Again, it was the Kootenay region’s job seekers that held the greatest percentage of people who found it difficult to get called for interviews.

For job seekers who found it difficult to identify positions for which they were qualified, the Kootenay region held the largest share at 64 per cent, well above the provincial average of 50 per cent.

 

Employment services

The highest proportion of job seekers to deem training important was in the Kootenay region (91 per cent) while the lowest was in Thompson Cariboo (68 per cent) and North Coast and Nechako (68 per cent).

Online services were deemed important by 71 per cent of job seekers in the Kootenay region — the second highest rate in the province.

Salaries were also the top feature that job seekers in B.C. looked for in a job posting, but the fourth most important feature employers consider in a job posting — with 42 per cent of employers and 68 per cent of job seekers saying salary was a key feature with job postings.

B.C.’s new pay transparency legislation will require all employers to include wage or salary ranges on all publicly advertised jobs as of Nov. 1.

“Our data suggests that employers may need support identifying salary ranges that meet both industry standards and their regional cost of living,” the report noted.

 

Retention

The proportion of employers offering on-the-job training was highest in Kootenay (78 per cent), while providing flexibility and support to employees who experience personal challenges or crises was somewhat less important.

While 76 per cent of employers said they offered flexibility and support, 40 per cent of job seekers felt their past employer did not provide this. The proportion of employers offering flexibility and support was the highest in the Kootenay region at 62 per cent.

Processes for resolving conflict and sharing concerns confidentially was another element of the workplace, with the proportion of employers with conflict resolution processes was highest in the Kootenays (82 per cent).

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