There is a labour shortage across the province and in Abbotsford. Recently, Cabela’s held a job fair to find local workers. (Jessica Peters/ Abbotsford News)

There is a labour shortage across the province and in Abbotsford. Recently, Cabela’s held a job fair to find local workers. (Jessica Peters/ Abbotsford News)

Worker shortage felt across B.C. has also hit Abbotsford

Chamber CEO explains the complicated situation currently facing employees and employers

If there was a phrase for Abbotsford businesses in 2021 it could have been: “Now hiring.”

The city was not immune to the labour shortage felt province-wide, and it has continued into this year. The shortage has affected construction, transportation, the service industry, hospitality, and even not-for-profits.

“Right now, I have not spoken to a sector that has not mentioned labour shortage being an issue,” said Katerina Anastasiadis, CEO of the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce.

Her organization has been helping local businesses work their way through the pandemic. She says there are a few big issues that are contributing to the drawn-out labour shortage.

One is the “huge inflationary costs of doing business” experienced in every sector since the beginning of the pandemic. There are costs associated with supply-chain issues, costs of materials, increased taxation pressures and more.

“Then the natural disaster we experienced did not help at all,” she added.

Another issue is a changing workforce that is also struggling to cope with the pandemic.

“Businesses are faced with inflation, but so are people,” she said. “Especially with the cost of housing.”

That means businesses may need to offer higher wages to retain or attract workers. But there is more they can do, she said.

“They can be more creative and competitive in job descriptions, and do more with marketing and presenting themselves,” she said. And they are doing this.

“Businesses are learning new ways of marketing themselves, their values and their purpose. There’s a lot of choice that workers have,” Anastasiadis said, and many of them are looking for more job satisfaction.

A worker may want to completely change industries to find fulfilling work, or may see value in a company that starts giving back to the community.

And yes, she said, the worker benefits given out by different levels of government have also shifted the work force. The pandemic caused so many businesses to restructure, shift, pivot, and even close. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit was a necessary support for Canadians, but the extension of the benefit also did not “incentivize” people to start looking for work.

And for many workers, their industries may still be struggling or unstable, Anastasiadis said.

“That’s why it’s a challenging situation,” she explained, as many workers are still unsure about job security in their chosen fields. Some of the most affected sectors are the same ones that have affected the public, such as tourism, hospitality, retail and restaurant industries.

There are still many small- to medium-sized businesses struggling to keep the doors open. Any business in the Abbotsford area can connect with the Chamber of Commerce to learn about what resources are available to manage these times.

READ MORE: Labour shortage hampers B.C. construction industry amid high demand for work


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