Employment slow in Revelstoke but prospects looking up

CP Rail is undertaking a big hiring blitz but overall the employment situation in Revelstoke is not as good as hoped, says the manager of the Revelstoke Employment Services Centre.

“Although the numbers aren’t that different it just feels different,” said Cathie Thacker. “I don’t know why. I don’t know what’s going on. You’re hearing all sorts of problems throughout the province and throughout Canada.”

There were about 55 jobs posted at the employment centre when the Times Review spoke to Thacker last week. “Which is not too bad for this time of year,” she said.

However, she added that while the numbers weren’t too different from past years, it felt slower and people were reporting difficulty finding work.

“What I heard through the grapevine, from people coming out here, is that there’s no jobs,” she said. “Lots of the foreign people could not find jobs.”

The number of visitors to the employment centre is down about five per cent for the period of December to February this year compared to the same period last year but web hits from within British Columbia are up 28 per cent, according to Thacker.

Another thing she said is that people were mostly finding part-time work and not getting as many hours as expected.

There is some good news. CP Rail recently graduated a class of 13 new train conductors from the six month training course and 15 more started last week. There are also plans to hire another 45 conductors, said Kevin Hrysak, a spokesperon for CP Rail.

He said the new hires were both due to attrition and to meet growing demand.

“We have to keep on top of that, especially since it takes these guys 6 months to get absorbed into the pool,” he said. “Any future growth, we want to make sure we’re prepared and in a situation to handle it.”

As well, work will ramp up at Mica Dam Units 5 & 6 expansion this spring. The billion dollar project is expected to create 800 person years of work over the five years of construction.

“The camp itself will house 300 people at any given moment because the needs of the project will change over time,” said BC Hydro spokeperson Jennifer Walker-Larsen.

The new schools project is also expected to reach peak employment over the summer, when work is going full steam ahead on both the new high school and elementary school.

“I do know that we’ve had good responses for employers posting here,” said Thacker. “They’re getting enough resumes coming when they have a job posting up – if that tells you anything.”