Stacey Laybolt (right), assistant food and beverage manager of Elements Casino in Cloverdale, connects with an attendee at the Black Press Extreme Career Fair last month on the Lower Mainland. Black Press is hosting a Lower Island edition next week at The Q Centre in Colwood. Lance Peverley/Black Press

Career Fair in Colwood connects all sides of job market

Black Press Extreme Education and CareerFair runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26 at The Q Centre

As regional and provincial unemployment remain near record lows, next week’s Black Press Extreme Education and Career Fair could be your best bet to connect with your next employer.

The fair, organized by Black Press, publisher of your local community newspaper, offers attendees access to a wide range of companies and organizations from both the private and public sector.

“There’s a lot of recruitment being done in the area and there’s lots of opportunities for people to follow their passion,” says Brittney Prentice, events marketing co-ordinator for Black Press. “This is about making the greater community in Victoria aware of what’s available to them.”

The show itself runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26 at The Q Centre at West Shore Parks and Recreation, 1767 Island Hwy. in Colwood.

One of the companies present will be Slegg Building Materials, a Sidney-based building supplier, with locations and deep ties across Vancouver Island, including Saanich.

“We are participating because we are a growing business that continues to look for talented people,” said Julie Adams.

While it is difficult to say what percentage share of the company’s employees comes from job fairs, such events offer at least three advantages, she said.

First, it exposes the company. “It gives us an opportunity to interact with potential employees, and a chance to demonstrate that we are more than just a lumber company,” said Adams. “It gives us an opportunity to show the kind of careers that we offer.”

Second, job fairs gives an interested audience a chance to learn about the company, she said. “It is also educational,” she said. While the fair might not lead to a match, attendees will have learned more about the company, information which they can share with others in their network.

Third, it also gives the chance the company to interact with representatives from employment services centre, employment counsellors and the representatives of educational institution, said Adams.

Overall, Adams said the quality of these jobs fairs have always pleased her. Over the years, the company has used job fairs to hire four managers and numerous employees outside that category.

Exhibitors range from public sector employers such as B.C. Corrections, ICBC, B.C. Ferries, the University of Victoria and the Canadian Armed Forces, to private companies including Thrifty Foods, Country Grocer, Elements Casino in View Royal, Black Press and others.

The fair is targeting not only unemployed people, Prentice said, but students and “those that are looking to change careers and get a fresh start on something.” It follows successful career fairs hosted in the Comox Valley and Langley earlier this year and ties in with the regular LocalWorkBC.ca jobs feature seen on all Black Press community newspaper websites.

Next week’s job fair happens against the backdrop of a rosy job picture. While regional unemployment has ticked up in recent months, it remains among the lowest in the country with 4.5 per cent in September 2017. That is lower than the unemployment rate across British Columbia, whose rate of 4.9 per cent ranks below the national figure of 6.2 per cent.

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