BC Labour Market Study Moves into Phase 2

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BC Labour Market Study Moves into Phase 2

Posted on Thursday 04/27/17

Many employers in the convenience and gas industry have told us that recruiting and retaining employees is one of the biggest challenges facing their businesses and it is only getting worse. That’s why the WCSA has initiated a Labour Market research project with funding support from the BC Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training to discover the causes of - and potential solutions for - the labour market issues facing our industry in BC.

Phase 1 is now complete. It involved broad initial consultation with industry stakeholders like store owners, managers, employers and staff to identify areas in need of more research and form a steering group to help direct the next phases of the program.

Some of the key findings from Phase 1 include:

• The work performed by convenience and gas employees is complex and demands more responsibility than many prospective employees expect. There are no National Occupation Classification (NOC) codes that adequately describe the work and there is often a mismatch between employer and employee expectations.

• High staff turnover carries an enormous cost for employers. Participants reported that on-boarding each new employee can cost between $2000 and $4000 annually.

• Public perception of the industry and the opportunities for career choices and advancement are not ideal. Strategic improvements in the “employment brand” of the industry would help attract job-seekers suited to work in the industry.

• Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program have made this program onerous and inaccessible to employers who have relied upon it to mitigate staff shortages in the past. This is a problem that affects many sectors, causing widespread competition for a limited pool of local workers.

• Many employers say their staff is largely made up of part-time students that can be difficult to retain. Currently, opportunities for diversifying the workforce are limited, but further study may help to expand this option.

• The cost of living, especially (but not only) in urban areas, has made it virtually impossible for employees to secure affordable housing near their workplaces. The costs of commuting long distances coupled with the shortcomings of local transit systems, have compounded the problems of employee recruitment and retention.

It is abundantly clear that retailers are facing growing challenges in employee recruitment and retention. Studies have shown that convenience and gas retailers are enormously important contributors to local and provincial economies while also playing a critical role in protecting public health and safety. C-stores collect billions of dollars in federal and provincial taxes every year, are diligent in restricting youth access to products such as tobacco and lottery, and function as crucial safe havens in their communities.

These issues put our industry and our communities at risk. We must find solutions.

Phase 2 is expected to get underway this summer and will examine these areas in more depth in order to collect and analyse information that will serve as the basis for actions to address the challenge. We will be looking at issues such as how the industry is evolving and how that affects employers’ ability to attract and retain quality staff, how housing markets and the cost of living impacts suitable applicants’ ability to accept jobs in the industry, and how recent changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program have altered local labour markets.

Are you affected by labour shortages in your business? Are you willing to share your experience and insight with us? Your participation will help shape the future of our industry. Please reach out to Jeannie Suric at jeanniesuric@hotmail.com or 604-862-6026 and have your voice heard.