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Desperately seeking workers: job fair brings recruiters out to arena

With many organizations struggling to fill positions, job-seekers can pick and choose careers.

At a time when high prices and shortages of everything from everyday consumer products to workers is on people’s minds, the Northern Manitoba Sector Council brought over 200 attendees and 27 exhibitors out for a job fair Oct. 20.

NMSC project co-ordinator Kunal Mahajan said the six-hour event at the Thompson Regional Community Centre attracted 238 participants, who got glimpses of careers in everything from mining and transportation to provincial health care and justice to security service and education.

“The people are doing on-site job interviews too,” he said, noting that a number of high school students who had the day off in Thompson attended, as did others from Nelson House.

Some of the exhibitors represented organizations that are in need of employees right now, like the Canadian Forces.

Sgt. Dillion Contois, a born-and-raised Winnipegger, was one of the people at the Canadian Forces booth trying to sell participants on the benefits of a military career, which include a starting salary of $36,000 for new recruits, about six weeks of paid vacation per year, medical and dental benefits and the opportunity to train in various careers and occupations. But some of the best parts are of being in the military are essentially priceless, he said. 

“I’ve been all over Canada,” he said. “Even though growing up it seemed like that might have been just a dream … to see the East Coast, West Coast, the Arctic … through the Canadian Forces I’ve been able to do that. I never saw myself being in the Arctic Circle but I experienced it. The Canadian Armed Forces took me on an experience that I’ll hold onto forever.”

For other exhibitors, their labour requirements are still a ways off. 

Alamos Gold Inc.’s Lynn Lake gold mines aren’t ready to begin production just yet, but when they are, there will be plenty of jobs available, which is good news for Lynn Lake.

“There’s jobs there but there’s not enough jobs for everybody that lives there so hopefully this is something that, once it comes in, it’ll provide everybody an opportunity,” said Alamos training co-ordinator Holly Martin. 

In the construction phase, the company will need about 500 workers and then about 400 once mining begins. Although the goal is to train local people to do many of the jobs, skilled positions like heavy equipment operators and truck drivers can be tough to fill locally, especially given a shortage of services people in larger communities take for granted. It’s been several years since Lynn Lake had a functioning childcare facility, Martin says.

“It’s something that’s keeping a lot of people from being able to come to training.”

Mahajan says it benefits northern employers if they can find employees from within the region, as it saves them relocation costs and provides greater workforce stability since those from the north are likely to stay in the region longer than those who come here from somewhere else.

“They can stay here and they can work here, “ he said of northerners. “They can raise their families and they can do lots more.”

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