Job prospects brightening in Capital Region

Construction, finance, insurance and real estate operators top areas to find jobs in coming months

Mike Milner helps Mountain Equipment Co-op member Nick Rabbit choose a backpack at the store on Government Street. The retail sector is among those that are expected to experience growth in the early spring.

Jobs in construction, wholesale and retail and the finance, insurance and real estate sectors will be the top areas to find a job in Greater Victoria this spring.

That’s according to a quarterly report released Tuesday by employment services company Manpower Inc.

“We’ve seen more companies hiring permanent jobs and temporary positions, so it looks like it’s getting a little bit better for people out there getting jobs,” said Jeff Polkinghorne, branch manager for Manpower Vancouver.

Seventeen per cent of employers in Victoria said they planned to hire new staff between April and June, up from seven per cent last quarter.

The survey predicts a 34-per-cent increase in employment for the construction industry, 18 per cent for finance, insurance and real estate, and a 21 per  cent in the wholesale and retail sector.

However, this increase in hiring trends for the Capital Region is lower than last year’s rate of 30 per cent.

“It’s actually gone down year over year but it’s still building up for the year so far,” Polkinghorne said.

Increases in employment in Victoria have recently become more common for certain sectors, according to Sasha Angus, economic development officer for the Greater Victoria Development Agency.

He noted that jobs in the technology, building and service sectors are in demand.

“We’re getting back to a position (to hire) for a number of the industries, like the tech sector, where we’re finding talent is becoming a key priority for a lot of the businesses,” he said. “So they’re doing everything they can to identify the folks and bring them on board.”

Angus attributes employment increases in the construction sector to large amounts of work being done overseas and changes in the HST policy.

“A lot of the companies that we have here locally, they do some work locally, (but) they do a lot of business internationally,” he said.

“So as we start to see improvements in the United States, as we start to see new opportunities in China and Asia, (local companies) need the people to do that work.”

Sarah-Jane Chilton, manager of Mountain Equipment Co-op on Government Street, was surprised to hear about the supposed increase in staffing of the retail industry.

“I don’t think anyone’s business is booming,” she said. “We’re up (in business) but not a significant amount, not more than we usually are from year to year.”

While MEC is currently seeking workers for the summer months, Chilton said they will not be hiring more people than normal.

“Usually for the spring we will hire between 16 to 20 people and that’s pretty average,” she said. “It’s been the same sort of number for the last two to three years.”

Angus doesn’t believe the growing demand for employees is necessarily seasonal.

“In the tourism sector there may be a bit of seasonality as the new tourism season approaches, but for some of the companies it’s just increases in new business that are driving this demand,” he said.

Victoria is sitting in the middle of the pack nationally for hiring, close to Vancouver which is at 19 per cent, Polkinghorne said. Richmond-Delta is the highest at 32 per cent.

reporter@vicnews.com