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COLUMN: How times have changed in the job market

With so many job openings out there, columnist wonders why it's so hard to hire reliable help in this strange, post-COVID world
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Have you noticed the lineups at the drive-thrus are incredibly long?

Have you found a lot of companies, stores, offices are working fewer hours, or are operating less days per week?

I have seen quite a few signs on doors simply stating: “Due to severe staffing shortages, we are open on designated hours.”

Here’s my question. Why doesn’t anybody need a job?

That may be a bit of a generalization, but there are definitely an over abundance of job openings. It can’t be that people are flush with cash. Last I checked, most people were cutting back on everything from gas to groceries.

Rents are insane, and taxes are up.

I know everything went crazy during COVID, but shouldn’t things be normalizing now? The temporary government bailout known as CERB (Canadian Emergency Response Benefit) was a one and done, right? So, I am unclear about how so many people didn’t go back to work by now.  

I understand many jobs disappeared, too, but there truly are ‘We Are Hiring' signs at every turn. Some jobs may require specialized training, but certainly not all of them.

I heard a few stories recently that literally had me shaking my head. A local business, in the hospitality sector, did interviews for a job opening. The applicant was hired. A start date and time was set.

The day and time came and went. The company just simply got ghosted. Who does that? Apparently more than you would think.

At this same location, 20 interviews were arranged over a two-week period and phone reminders given. Two people actually showed up.

Similarly, a person showed up for the morning, but then went to lunch and never returned. (OK, so I may have dreamed of doing that, but never really did!)

In another case, the applicant was given a start date to come for training. The company got an email basically saying that start date was no longer convenient and she would get back to them when she would be prepared to start.

Last I checked, things don’t work that way.

There were four very valid reasons why I've had a job since I turned 15. 

  1.  I was scared of my parents (in a healthy way)
  2.  I was intimidated by my bosses (and wanted to do a good job)
  3.  I had a work ethic and self-respect (I made commitments and kept them)
  4.  I needed money.

Are any of those reasons still applicable?

According to the job search site Indeed Canada, 35 per cent of respondents who were not employed said they were not looking for a job and not interested in doing so. Participants, between 55 and 64, basically said they were exiting the labour force earlier than expected.

The pandemic did really change our point of view.

In the same survey, job seekers admitted to being choosier, wanting better wages, more flexibility in hours and more chances for future advancement. Referred to as the “gig economy,” there are many people moving away from the traditional 9-to-5 office job. They are technically self-employed as contractors, freelancers and food delivery drivers.

It makes sense because now we know we can work remotely and many people want to do so. That is logical and if it can be done, do it — doing a job in a new way is still a job. But I'm talking about those who just refuse to get a job when many are available.

Employees, in many situations, have been used and abused and taken advantage of for decades. I totally understand that frustration. Poor pay. Few benefits. Unhealthy work atmospheres. Terrible hours. Been there, done that. But, I still did it.

What is the answer? Experts don’t seem to think it’s a quick fix. and it may continue this way for the foreseeable future. For now, I find myself really appreciative of those who are currently working so hard in the service industries or any industry and doing so with a good attitude.

Thank you for showing up. Literally, thank you for showing up!


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About the Author: Wendy King

Wendy King writes about all kinds of things from nutrition to the job search from cats to clowns — anything and everything — from the ridiculous to the sublime. Watch for Wendy's column weekly.
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