At almost the same rate you see election signs, you will see help wanted signs dotting the landscape anywhere you go in our city.
From the food and service industries to specialty positions like truck maintenance, it seems like you can’t go anywhere without seeing people looking for workers.
Rory Ring is the Chief Executive Officer of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce. He suggests there are multiple reasons for the problem. Some of them are Sault-specific and others are caused by more national issues.
He believes it’s not so much a challenge of finding people who want to work but people with the right skill set for the position.
“Because of COVID you’ve had a number of folks that have changed careers, changes jobs, have taken advantage of some of the training and moved on to other lines of work,” said Ring. “There’s a shrinking demographic and an older demographic… we’re not really attracting as many youth as we need to fill the positions, we’re not attracting as many new immigrants… and we certainly need to be better at engaging our indigenous community as they’re the fastest growing youth population.”
Ring also pointed out the pandemic has been harder on women, with many choosing not to return to the workforce until their childcare and education challenges have leveled out. He says there needs to be a concerted effort at all levels to both create positions for women and add more diversity to the workforce.
The third issue he identified is that some of the financial support the government is providing in this moment makes it less appealing to find a job.
“Some of the support programs that have been offered through the pandemic have taken people out of the workforce,” said Ring. “It’s our hope that as we move into [and] through to the fall, that some of those support mechanisms will be ratcheted down, so that it makes it more attractive for people to re-enter the workforce.”
His observations are qualified by local business owners throughout the community. Kurtis McDermid, owner of Odd Job Jacks, recently spoke with SaultOnline about his company’s issues finding workers.
“Our struggle to find employees has been especially hard the last 2 years. Trying every tactic I can think of,” said McDermitt.
He said that they get frequent requests for cash payment only, or he’s told his wages are too low, or that they only want full-time employment or that childcare is an issue, with the last being one he’s hearing more and more frequently.
According to his most recent post on the struggles he has had, only about a dozen people showed up to his open hiring session this past weekend for The Clean Team and Odd Job Jacks.
This is an ever-changing and dynamic situation in the Sault, with multiple factors playing into it at any given time.
SaultOnline will continue to investigate the issues affecting you and your community including this one going forward and bring the stories back to you that matter.