The Fernie Chamber of Commerce recently launched a workforce attraction website specific to the Elk Valley. Addressing labour shortages felt by a number of local businesses, the site is targeted towards attracting job seekers to the Elk Valley for the spring, summer, and fall seasons. In partnership with Tourism Fernie, the website, Work in Fernie, houses an online job board as well as inspirational content and resources for aspiring employees, while showcasing the area’s diversity of careers and attractive lifestyle.
According to Brad Parsell, executive director for the Fernie Chamber of Commerce, though Fernie’s renowned skiing attracts sufficient employees for the winter season, year round businesses struggle once seasonal workers leave in the spring. With tourism reaching winter levels even in the summer, businesses are struggling due to diminished labour pools to draw from to accommodate for the rise in clientele.
Parsell also mentioned that the issue is exacerbated as British Columbia’s general workforce is aging, with less people entering it than leaving, heightening the need to devise creative ways to attract workers to the Elk Valley.
“Local labour-intensive businesses like hotels and restaurants are in a constant cycle of re-hiring and re-training staff from season to season, which is a costly exercise,” said Parsell. “This issue has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw many of the Elk Valley’s foreign workers on temporary work permits returning to their home countries. Access to a stable workforce is a key economic development pillar for Fernie and the Elk Valley if local businesses are to not only survive this pandemic, but grow and be successful in the future. Any hope of attracting new entrepreneurs, businesses and investment will also hinge on the ability for these new ventures to be adequately staffed year round.”
The workforce attraction program was outlined in the Fernie Chamber of Commerce’s 2019/2020 strategic plan, and also functions in accordance with a project area in the Kootenay Rockies Destination Development Strategy. The need for attracting more workers to the area was also identified as a priority action in the upcoming Fernie Tourism Master Plan.
Conceptualized by the chamber in 2019, the Work in Fernie project was developed with seed funding awarded through the Government of British Columbia’s Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development’s Rural Dividend Fund.
Assisting with the endeavour, Tourism Fernie donated photography to supplement the website, and will continue offering marketing support. Both Tourism Fernie and the chamber hope this project will assist with the labour shortage challenges local tourism operators are currently facing, especially as our uncertain economic recovery unfolds.
Local Elk Valley businesses are encouraged to begin posting job opportunities to the site by signing up via the Post a Job option on the home page at Workinfernie.com. Chamber staff are also available to assist businesses with signing up. For more information or questions, contact Parsell at firstname.lastname@example.org.