Temporary job agencies in Abbotsford have a message to local job seekers – there is plenty of available work out there.
The News spoke to a pair of temp agencies, who both stated that, despite the pandemic, there were all sorts of openings available and at times it has been difficult to find candidates to fill those empty roles.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, according to numbers from Statistics Canada’s Unemployment Insurance program, Abbotsford and its surrounding area’s unemployment rate steadily increased and has hovered around the eight per cent rate since June.
Compare that to early-2020 rates which were around five per cent, a number it remained close to for most of 2019 and 2018.
Tania Gelineau, the branch manager for PeopleReady’s Abbotsford location, initially reached out to The News back in December and stated that she is short roughly 25 to 30 people every day.
PeopleReady primarily assists with staffing companies in construction, hospitality, manufacturing and logistics, transportation, warehousing and other industries. Gelineau said things slowed down early on into the pandemic with many businesses closing, but she said availability has gone up as COVID-19 continued.
“What I’m seeing now is businesses are looking for people,” she said. “They’re contacting us because they’re looking for permanent workers and aren’t finding them anywhere.”
She explained her company does offer permanent and temporary employment options for job seekers, but she has found that many workers are either waiting for their old job to come back or looking into a career change. As a result, many jobs are available.
Gelineau said she understands that some workers may be leery about starting a new job with a pandemic going on, but said every company working with PeopleReady is investigated throughly for COVID-19 safety protocols.
“When we sign on a new customer or even our current customers we do site visits,” she said. “We will go to the site, ask questions about what is happening at the site, what the duties are and so on. We also ask about COVID-19 and their procedures related to it. All of our associates check in when they report for work in the morning and answer all our COVID-19 questions before they begin.”
Dan Purdy, the franchise owner for Abbotsford’s Express Employment Professionals, agreed that there are a significant amount of jobs out there, which is why he believes that staffing agencies like his are so vital. He said when jobs are plentiful, saving time by using these services can be a smart business decision.
“If you’re looking for work right now there’s no reason to not be working,” he said. “You could walk out the front door and trip over three jobs.”
Purdy explained that he feels COVID-19 has given workers more options and it is his job to match them up with the right options. With so many new people looking for work that may take more time, which could explain the uptick in the unemployment rate.
He said the businesses he deals with have quickly discovered the value and time saving that a service such as his can create.
“The mood from businesses is mixed – it’s both frustration and euphoria,” he said. “It’s frustrating because many use these online services which get clogged up with candidates who should not be replying to ads. We actually do it faster than they would.”
Purdy said recent data from the society for human resource management found that it takes about 42 days for the average client to find an employee, while his company aims to do it in 48 hours or less.
Gelineau added that her company has a plethora of options, from those only wanting work one day a week to full-time. She also said that she wants to help move away from some of the negative stigma attached to those who use temp job services.
“We’re changing,” she said. “In the past it was almost seen as a negative and that maybe a man who is trying to support his family wouldn’t necessarily come to a temp agency. But we have a woman who works one day a week for us who is trying to save up to build a house. We have others who just wanted Christmas money, we had a retiree who was wanting to go to Mexico. It’s really for everyone and we have people who have been with us for many, many years. We have a lot more family-minded people who are using this service.”
She said she wants to get the message out there that there is work available.
“I see a lot of people saying there’s no work or there’s nothing out there, but there is,” she said. “Some people just want to get out of the house and we do offer that type of flexibility. I have 12 full-time positions I’m looking to fill and I just wanted to get the word out about that and what we have available.