Christine Willow of Chemistry Consulting says the strong employment market has made it more difficult for companies to hire seasonal workers.

Christine Willow of Chemistry Consulting says the strong employment market has made it more difficult for companies to hire seasonal workers.

Victoria businesses looking for workers under their Christmas trees

Employment opportunities bulging like Santa’s belly but workers already have their stockings stuffed

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.

Unfortunately within the capital region there isn’t enough worker’s to feed the appetite of Father Christmas.

With Victoria’s unemployment rate among the lowest in the country 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 Willows, 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.

While no formal statistics exist, on worker demand 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 on is on pace to beat previous years, with wages rising accordingly, accordingly 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 jobs-wanted signs adorning fast food restaurants of various repute.

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