Businesses suffer but still optimistic

More than half of businesses that responded to a community workforce survey say they have suffered as a result of the local economy

More than half of businesses that responded to a community workforce survey say they have suffered as a result of the local economy.

About 63 per cent said the weak economy has had a negative impact on their operations.

But, according to the survey, completed by 231 employers, most are optimistic about the future.

About 43 per cent believe the economy will be moderately better within the next year and 54 per cent think the demand for their products and services will increase moderately.

About 47 per cent said they believe their revenues will increase moderately in the next year while 16 per cent think revenues will decrease.

“There was a somewhat surprising level of business confidence and the level of resilience,” Kerry Jothen, CEO of Human Capital Strategies which helped gather survey results, told business leaders at a chamber luncheon last Thursday. “But that’s good. There’s a strong belief that the community of Campbell River is well-positioned.”

The survey was an initiative of the Campbell River and District Chamber of Commerce and North Island Employment (NIEFS) to better describe the community’s employer base and identify which occupations are in demand, transition or decline and to determine the skills and training required for these occupations.

The survey, which was a seven-and-a-half month process, was the largest single, community-based workforce strategy survey ever taken on Vancouver Island, with 54 questions.

“The key findings from this initiative will assist our local employers with their human resource planning, job seekers with their employment, skills development and career decision making and assist with the retention of our existing businesses and industries, as well as support the attraction of emerging industry sectors and businesses,” said Colleen Evans, executive director of the Campbell River Chamber.

The survey revealed that North Island College, which provided research for the survey, projected there would be 3,538 job openings in the Campbell River area between 2009 and 2014 and 70-90 per cent of those will come from existing businesses. Sixty per cent of those will be attributed to retirement and workers moving out of town.

Currently, there are 90 job vacancies, with 31 of those in occupations unique to primary industry; 14 in the sales and service sector; and 12 in management occupations.

Of those employers who have struggled to fill positions, 27 per cent acknowledged that vacancies have required staff or the business owner to work more hours; 22 per cent said empty positions have caused reduced customer service; while nearly 16 per cent identified limited production levels as a consequence to being understaffed.

The majority of employers said it is difficult to recruit workers because they cannot attract qualified people.

Many said they cannot afford to pay those with the right skill set and they face competition from other employers, some from out of town.

Between 70 and 90 per cent of Campbell River youth plan on leaving the community for education, training or careers, according to reports from organizations such as Statistics Canada and BC Stats, that were reviewed in creating the survey.

Despite the potential loss of the majority of Campbell River youth, more than half of respondents (56 per cent) are not concerned about meeting their recruitment needs in the next two years while 13 per cent are not confident they will be able to recruit qualified workers.

According to the survey respondents, there are 4,533 full-time employees in Campbell River; 1,232 part-time workers and 951 contract employees. Organizations average about 16 workers each.


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