Employment news in Calgary has been dominated this year by continual announcements of layoffs particularly in the oil patch.
But despite the doom and gloom, some industries have recently shown increases in employment.
According to Statistics Canada, overall employment in the Calgary census metropolitan area dropped from 815,400 in October to 808,200 in November.
But the following sectors all saw job growth – agriculture; construction; manufacturing; business, building and other support services; public administration and educational services.
“I’ve got to say I’m shocked still every day that I still have good business coming in,” said Rochelle Dvorkin, of Dvorkin Personnel, an executive search firm in Calgary. “I’m consistently dealing with companies that are based in Calgary but do business all over the place . . . Some of those companies I’m getting work from right now to hire positions for are software development companies.”
She’s also looking for sales managers, project managers, and site superintendents on construction sites.
“It’s all over the place. It’s the small to mid-size company that is doing okay still that is hiring,” said Dvorkin. “I noticed they’re hiring sales managers and sales teams in marketing.
“So every time I think there’s going to be a slowdown, I see that there are companies still doing very well and hiring. They’re just not the oil and gas companies. It’s still looking good out there. I would have expected it to slow down by now and to see the fallout. But I don’t think it’s going to happen. I think we’re still going to see the small to mid-size companies that do business outside of Calgary and outside of Alberta, as well as companies that have contracts put in place whether it be construction or real estate development, we’re going to see them still bringing on teams of people.”
Debbie Wershler, vice-president of operations for recruitment specialist Bowen Workforce Solutions in Calgary, said anything associated with the oil and gas sector is “sucking wind right now.”
“That’s the producers that have been laying off like crazy as well as all of that oilfield services side of things. Some big project construction-related jobs and then all those support functions associated with manufacturing and distribution of goods associated with those projects,” she said.
“But agriculture isn’t affected at all . . . It is still hiring. The demand for healthcare doesn’t decrease in a recession. So those jobs are still hiring. Education continues . . . And retail. It’s one of the biggest employers in Alberta and it’s traditionally had high turnover. So there will kind of always be jobs.”
Wershler said as in every recession the city risks losing people to other provinces or to other industries and careers because when people are laid off they have to find something and not everyone returns to the same job they had before.
“The numbers (of layoffs) in oil and gas are probably bigger this time and for a longer period of time that we’ve seen for quite some time. I’ve been in this industry since 1981 and this is probably the largest numbers and the most sustained downturn that I’ve seen in all of my years here,” she said.
Despite the major cuts in the oil patch, added Wershler, there is still some hiring taking place as companies change the way they do work. Construction and engineering is also hiring for buildings in the city and the financial planning sector is also looking for people.
She said sales and business development skills are in demand as well.
Randy Upright, chief executive of Manpower’s Alberta region, said there is a misconception that the energy sector is only shedding jobs but there continues to be some opportunity in that industry.
“As those jobs are shed, we’re still seeing energy companies who are hiring,” he said. “No question in the last 60 days our retail and wholesale trade because of the Christmas season has been quite active. No question that we’re still hiring in construction . . . With the number of projects that are being built at this moment in time, there’s still jobs that we’re placing for in construction.”
Also engineering and public administration are areas where hiring is taking place, he added.
The number of people receiving regular Employment Insurance benefits has more than doubled in the past year in the Calgary region. According to Statistics Canada, the number of Calgary-area recipients in October was up 9,830 people from a year earlier — an increase of 101.3 per cent. On a month-over-month basis, regular beneficiaries rose by 700 people, or 3.7 per cent, in the Calgary region from September.
In November, the unemployment rate in the Calgary region jumped to 6.9 per cent from 6.7 per cent in October.
Mario Toneguzzi, Calgary Herald
Published on: December 30, 2015 | Last Updated: December 30, 2015 1:51 PM MST