August 21st, 2019

Business Beat: Prepare for labour market shifts

By Medicine Hat News on December 12, 2018.

There’s a shift brewing in the regional labour market that could catch unwary employers off guard.

One sign of the shift is the story in Saturday’s edition of the Medicine Hat News that carried good news for job seekers. The local unemployment is below provincial averages and dropping further all the time. After a few hard years, it’s hard not to celebrate those numbers.

Flipping back a few editions, there are older news stories that suggest the increasing job openings is a trend that will continue. We’ve all read about new jobs coming online in renewable energy and cannabis. In addition to the construction jobs already being created, these new employers will certainly need ongoing staff.

The massive greenhouse forming on the city’s edge will employ hundreds including a wide range of technical and management positions. With the sheer scale of this project, and the potential for more wind farms and new businesses in our interconnected region, the competition for skilled and capable employees may get stiff.

Employers like mine will not be immune. While the timing may be coincidental, my team of 12 seems to have drawn the attention of those needing talented people. In recent months, new opportunities and salaries have been showcased to team members and I’m lucky to have lost just one awesome person.

If you’re wondering what the impact will be on your business you’re not alone.

Providing answers to employment market questions is one reason a number of organizations and businesses are planning a detailed review of the current and projected job market.

We’ve been drawn together by the dedicated people at the City of Medicine Hat to study the labour market, but more importantly, gather input and information from business leaders. We’re not aiming for a report that gathers dust on a shelf. The ultimate goal is to deliver strategies that can be implemented to help Medicine Hat and surrounding communities manage growth and all the opportunities ahead.

This might also be a good time to look inward and consider the needs of the people we rely on to get work done.

In my case, I’ve been thinking seriously about the consequences of the increasingly attractive job market. What if I lost two people? Or three? Or five? What if I extend that to the far end of the scale and every last one of the team was recruited away?

The fact is, I can’t possibly accomplish alone any of the work of the team. I may have access to all the passwords, but I don’t know how to use the software. I know the names but I don’t have the relationships. None of the metrics that grade my work can be achieved by me alone.

Those are uncomfortable facts, and you can be sure that I’ll be paying serious attention to the team and the job market.

Mark Keller is director, College Advancement, at Medicine Hat College.


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