Central Okanagan labour statistics puzzling

Questions concerning why unemployment rate so high while local employers have difficulty filling skilled job openings.

Corrie Griffiths

So why is it so hard to find a job in the Central Okanagan?

That is a question that has perplexed Corrie Griffiths, manager of the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission.

So many local economy tracking indicators are trending positive—except for the labour force numbers.

While a number one concern for local employers is filling skilled labour job postings, the unemployment rate for the area hovers around eight per cent.

“It is very curious whey there is that disconnect going on,” Griffiths said.

“There is a bit of skills mismatch going on there and we want to identify where that lies and how to address it.”

Griffiths says the COEDC will be invoking different research tools this year to help try and understand that current job creation/job seeking dilemma in the local marketplace and offer some solutions.

This past year, she said of the online job postings surveyed in the Central Okanagan, 18 per cent require a university education, 21 per cent required college or vocational skills training and a high proportion of the job postings were for full-time work.

And she added that 40 per cent of online job postings are done on individual employers’ websites as opposed to using other advertising means.

Griffiths says that reflects a generational change in how employers post jobs and how would-be employees network to find those job openings.

“We are seeing models change in how people access the job market, how they network to find out about job openings, such as being an active community volunteer by which you establish potential employer contacts,” she said.

Griffiths said employers holding back on hiring people over-qualified for a given job opening for fear those people will jump to other higher-paying jobs elsewhere, such as offered in the oil and gas industry.

“I’m not sure how strong that is but we do get some sense of that in talking with local businesses,” she said.

Meanwhile, Val Litwin, chief executive officer and president of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, painted an optimistic picture about the province’s economic growth potential when he recently spoke at the annual general meeting for the Westside Board of Trade.

Litwin said 1,200 Chamber members across the province responded to a membership survey asking for their economic outlook from their own business operation perspectives, and 78 per cent of those responses indicated an expectation their businesses will grow over the next five years.

“We asked what were the top four sectors they felt were important to B.C.’s economic growth over the next 10 years and the responses were tourism, clean technology, international trade and health care services,” Litwin said.

“We are still a resource-based economy in B.C. It’s where our economic wealth and prosperity is largely derided from and it will be a big part of our future.”