Victoria job fairs highlight alarming trends

Job fair organizer says the job hunt has changed in the past decade

Victorians may boast some of the lowest official unemployment numbers in Canada, but statistics gathered at local job fairs are highlighting alarming trends, say organizers.

Since last November, GT Hiring Solutions has hosted three hiring fairs, the most recent attracting more than 1,100 people and 42 employers at a downtown church on March 6.

“We had 118 seniors (ages 55 and up) show up,” said Garth Yoneda, GT’s community relations manager for Vancouver Island. “There are so many people at the end of their careers who are looking for work.”

Job fairs in November and February attracted similar numbers, but Yoneda was concerned nearly 30 per cent of attendees at this month’s fair were already employed.

“People are looking for another job because salaries are so pitiful out there,” he said. “In the past, attendance at job fairs was parallel to unemployment. Now, that doesn’t seem to be the case.”

Women also appear more motivated and willing to attend job fairs immediately after losing a job or graduating, Yoneda said. Half of women at the fair reported searching for work within the first month, while only 34 per cent of men reported the same.

“Males and females looking for work for more than six months are about the same statistically. But females are looking a lot harder at the beginning of unemployment. We don’t know what that’s about yet, but it helps us know who we should be targeting.”

GT Hiring Solutions is one of about 70 organizations across B.C. that delivers job search training and support through provincial government funding.

Yoneda said the job hunt has changed in the past decade, and many larger organizations now screen applicants using keyword-scanning software or other online filtering methods. Using a hiring centre for help with a resume or cover letter can make a big difference, he said.

“There are tips and tricks for some of these application processes. You have to know how to apply. Island Health told me they would be surprised if they didn’t get at least 35 hires out of this month’s job fair.”

The event also attracted volunteer organizations such as Beacon Community Services, Community Living Victoria and Victoria Youth Empowerment Society. Look for details on the next hiring fair at


Help to hire people with disabilities

Community Living Victoria, GT Hiring Solutions and the province are hoping to convince more employers to hire people with disabilities.

“Some people can only work for about two hours at a time, but that doesn’t work for many employers,” says Garth Yoneda of GT Hiring Solutions. “So the challenge is finding a place where people can continue to do shorter shifts, perhaps at assisted care homes, or larger organizations that can accommodate that type of work.”

On April 1, Yoneda and his colleagues are hosting a complimentary breakfast for employers from 7 to 9 a.m. at the Hotel Grand Pacific to discuss the benefits of inclusive workplaces. Speakers include Don McRae, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation, Frank Bouree of Chemistry Consulting and representatives from Thrifty Foods, Saanich Police Department and others.

For more information, call Community Living Victoria at 250-477-7231 or email employment