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.”

Just Posted

UPDATED: Royal Jubilee gets 15 more patient beds for end-of-life care

New patient beds in hospice and acute palliative care to be in place by spring 2020

Sidney has highest walk-in clinic wait times in the country: report

Several Vancouver Island facilities wait times notably poor

Beaches near Sidney’s Tsehum Harbour to receive first clean up in years

Peninsula Streams Society hopes to attract 50 volunteers for the Saturday event

Food truck pilot program in Saanich parks gets the green light from council

Pilot program will see food trucks permited in certain parks as early as next summer

‘Homespun’ brings six Greater Victoria artists together for genre-bending music

Highlands Music Coffee House returns Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m.

‘A loud sonic boom’: Gabriola Island residents recount fatal plane crash

Area where the plane went down is primarily a residential neighbourhood, RCMP say

One man dead after car crash in Nanaimo

One person died, another was injured in the accident which happened Wednesday on Nanaimo Lakes Road

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Dec. 10

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

POLL: Do you have a real or artificial Christmas tree?

The lights are up, holiday shoppers are bustling through the streets and… Continue reading

‘Honest mistake:’ RCMP says B.C. cannabis shop can keep image of infamous Mountie

Sam Steele wearing military, not RCMP uniform in image depicted in Jimmy’s Cannabis window

B.C. conservation officers put down fawn blinded by BB gun on Vancouver Island

Young deer found near construction site in Hammond Bay area in Nanaimo, B.C.

Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

Loggers call for action on strike, provincial stumpage

B.C. guide fined $2K in first conviction under new federal whale protection laws

Scott Babcock found guilty of approaching a North Pacific humpback whale at less than 100 metres

Feds urge Air Canada to fix booking problems as travel season approaches

The airline introduced the new reservation system more than three weeks ago

Most Read