Emilia Dudova, 20, and Trevor Jones, 21, look at job postings at the inaugural Spring Job Fair in Fernie. Kimberley Vlasic/The Free Press

Spring job fair to become an annual event

Inaugural event attracts 28 employers, about 100 jobseekers to Fernie Family Centre

Elk Valley employers will gather for a job fair each spring after the inaugural event was hailed a success.

EK Employment hosted the Valley’s first spring job fair May 3 in response to a labour shortage, with more than 200 vacancies in Fernie alone.

Starbucks was among 28 local employers to exhibit at the event, which was co-sponsored by the Fernie Chamber of Commerce and held at the Family Centre.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Starbucks Fernie general manager Colin Ferguson.

“We’d like to see more events like this I think, particularly heading into summer. A lot of people are always concerned about winter because it’s a ski town but summer’s actually a lot busier, so this is a well-timed event.”

Ferguson was hoping to find between three to five baristas to join the Fernie cafe, where their duties would include coffee-making, customer service and cleaning.

He said a comprehensive pay package, which included benefits such as a free pound of coffee a week, helped Starbucks to recruit and retain staff.

“I think we’ve been pretty lucky in general, we did (struggle to find staff) at the end of last summer when we had some students go to university,” said Ferguson.

“We were looking for two desperately and ended up finding them but mid-September, so there were a few weeks that were a bit rough. But generally we don’t struggle to find staff.”

Emilia Dudova, 20, and Trevor Jones, 21, were grateful for the opportunity to network with potential employers after returning to Fernie from Kelowna, where they are studying business at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus.

“It’s great to talk to the actual employers and look at them, and have a real conversation,” said Dudova.

“It’s not like an interview… you’re here to just explore what the job is about and how you will fit into that job.”

Jones was open to any position, while Dudova hoped to land a serving job for the summer.

“Coming from Kelowna and having serving experience there and realizing that it’s very profitable to work as a server, I’m definitely looking for something in hospitality,” she said.

Marketing and community engagement liaison for the Elk Valley’s EK Employment branch, Brenda Sutherland, was pleased with employer participation at the event.

“We had 28 employers attend which is almost as high as our winter job fair,” she said.

“The employer pool was diverse and offered jobs in tourism, hospitality, administration, retail, services and sales, early childhood education, mechanical, trades and mining.”

While Sutherland was disappointed with the number of jobseekers, with only about 100 people through the door and few local youth, she was confident numbers would improve each year.

“As long as there is a need the spring job fair will continue,” she said.

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