“This is our third time around. We’ve done this because there’s been a great success with the last ones. The employers love it, the job seekers love it and it’s just really good connections. It’s grown every single year and this one was quite easy to organize because the employers were coming to us saying, ‘we need people.’ It was 10 employers, right off the bat, I had to turn away four employers that wanted to come,” said Anna Keuth, business and industry liaison for Alberta Works, adding as space at the venue was limited.
According to organizers, the agriculture sector across the province needs more employees. Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development also organizes similar agriculture job fairs in partnership with Alberta Works in Edmonton.
“Agriculture needs workers both at the primary and in the processing side. This is a beautiful fit,” said Al Dooley, labour recruitment specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, in regards to the job fair held in southern Alberta last week.
Dooley said his leg of the government works with Alberta Works to put on job fairs specific to the agriculture industry and to offer opportunities to all Albertans.
“There’s a lot of opportunities and lots of room for advancement. It’s Lethbridge and area. We’ve got an employer from Brooks here and we’ve got a few from Taber,” added Keuth.
Keuth also believes agriculture job fairs are a good opportunity for a diverse sector of jobseekers.
“Part-time and full-time, temporary positions, seasonal positions — a little bit for everyone. It just kind of depends on what you’re looking for,” she said.
Dooley said he thinks there’s a belief the job fair is only for farm labourers.
“We have everything from farm labour to skilled trades jobs, millwrights, electricians, welders — the industry is quite broad in the terms of the scope,” Dooley explained.
Heather Kerr, manager of human resources at AGI, was one of the participants in last week’s agriculture job fair.
“This is the third time that we’ve participated in this event. The reason that we enjoy doing it and like doing it is because we’re with similar employers. Generally, when you go to a job fair, you’re the sole Ag person in a sea of oil and gas and you just can’t compete. We are all the same wage bracket, looking for the same types of people in the same industry, so it makes it a lot easier and you’re attracting the same type of people,” said Kerr.
Reports estimate around 100 jobseekers visited the job fair throughout the afternoon.
“We’ve had a whole range of people.We’ve had everybody from students to experienced people to new workers in Canada, some foreign workers — a broad range of people with different skill sets. Some people just experienced a layoff, some people are just getting out of school, and some people are looking to change their career field,” added Kerr.