Christine Willow of Chemistry Consulting says the strong employment market has made it more difficult for companies to hire seasonal workers.                                 Wolf Depner/News Staff

Christine Willow of Chemistry Consulting says the strong employment market has made it more difficult for companies to hire seasonal workers. Wolf Depner/News Staff

Victoria employers struggle to keep pace with holiday rush

Reports suggest seasonal hiring will outperform previous years

True to the body shape of the season’s central character, employment during the winter experiences a seasonal bulge as companies hire additional staff to handle the busy shopping season.

While no formal statistics exist, a quick search through the various job sites underscores this point. Indeed.com lists 89 seasonal jobs within 25 kilometres of Victoria, ranging across retail, horticulture, transportation and hospitality. Monster.ca lists 30 seasonal jobs with postings overlapping Indeed.com.

Available jobs include delivery drivers, sales associates, cashiers and landscape workers – in short, all the types of jobs needed during a season that combines mass consumerism with festive horticulture.

In fact, Indeed.com predicts that overall seasonal hiring in 2017 is on pace to beat previous years, with wages rising accordingly, according to published reports.

These figures, of course, fail to capture the hidden job market, which is really not so hidden, if you consider all the help-wanted signs adorning various fast food restaurants.

There lies the trouble for companies looking for seasonal staff. With Victoria’s unemployment rate hovering around 3.3 per cent – below the threshold of what economists consider full employment – local companies looking to fill additional jobs are having a hard time.

Christine Willow, partner in Chemistry Consulting Group, a human resource consulting firm, says seasonal positions are difficult to fill for a number of reasons.

First, seasonal jobs are less attractive, because people already have jobs. Second, people have choices. “Someone may start the position, then is offered a full time position elsewhere,” she said. Third, conflicting work schedules may make it difficult to take on another position. Fourth, university and college students, a traditional source of seasonal labour, tend to go home for the holidays, said Willow.

Ultimately, this combination of factors has complicated the search for seasonal labour, and companies are looking for various ways to keep their staff and find new ones.

Willow has heard anecdotes about companies, who are promoting people to supervisory positions that may not be ready for those or have little experience.

“Retailers are [also] focusing on seniors to fill the demand,” she said.

Simply put, if you are looking for work, whether seasonal or full-time, the choice is yours.

“The numbers could not be better if you are looking for work these days,” said Willow.

She especially sees this phenomenon on the other side of her business — GT Hiring Solutions — which offers employment services for the unemployed.

Over the past three years, the client volume has dropped over 60 per cent, she said. “People with minimal or no challenges and who want to work, can find work,” she said.

The national figures also bear this out. National unemployment in November 2017 was around 5.9 per cent, the lowest it has been since February 2008.

But every bulge has its reckoning. While the Canadian economy continues to create jobs – the Organisation for Economic Co-operation (OECD) predicts Canada will lead all G7 countries with a Gross Domestic Product of three per cent in 2018 — some issues loom on the horizon. They include questions about the sustainability of consumer borrowing, as Canadians lead the world in terms of debt, according to the OECD.

Economists also warn of cooling real estate markets. While their previous appreciations have helped fuel spending, pending changes to mortgage rules promise to slow down economic growth, with effects on the job market. This said, Victoria has strong fundamentals.

“Victoria has a diverse economy, with employment being strong in many sectors,” said Willow. We have [education], government, health care, a growing [technology] sector and booming tourism. This all plays into the low unemployment rate. We are not a ‘one horse’ town.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Various Victoria locations were hit with a slew of anti-bylaw graffiti Wednesday. This image has been altered to cover up profane language. (Submitted photo)
UPDATED: Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti an ‘unacceptable’ form of communication says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

The Gordon Head Recreation Centre stands in as the Quimper Regional Hospital on Feb. 23 for filming Maid, a 10-part Netflix series. (Greg Sutton/District of Saanich)
Netflix transforms Saanich recreation centre into hospital for filming

Facility was closed to public Feb. 23 for filming of Maid

Greg Chow is the 2021 Local Hero of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Fighting fire a family affair for Colwood Assistant Chief Greg Chow

With 38 years of service, Greg Chow is the 2021 Hero of the Year

This rendering shows plans for the new “flyover”overpass connecting northbound traffic on Highway 17 heading west on Keating Cross Road. Plans currently seeking public input propose two options for the median along Keating Cross Road. Option 1 will prevent left turns onto Tamany Drive and Buena Vista Road. Option 2 (seen here)will allow for left turns onto Tamany Drive and Bujena Vista Road. (Screencap/Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Public asked for comment on proposed overpass for Pat Bay in Central Saanich

New flyover overpass proposed for Highway 17 and Keating Cross Road

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)
B.C. woman has nothing but praise for Elder Dog Canada

National organization has a fleet of volunteer walkers ready, but needs more clients to serve

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

A Nanaimo RCMP vehicle in the Woodgrove Centre parking lot. (News Bulletin file photo)
Woman groped by stranger in mall parking lot in Nanaimo

Incident happened near bus loop Saturday, Feb. 20, at about 4:45 p.m.

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

Most Read