WCSA – Our Industry. Our Future. Labour Market Study Phase 2 is Complete
by: Andrew Klukas
In recent years, convenience store (c-store) employers from across the industry have reported experiencing labour shortages that are negatively impacting their businesses. The Western Convenience Stores Association (WCSA), through the five phases of the Sector Labour Market Partnerships (SLMP) Program, is aiming to better understand and respond to these shortages.
The WCSA completed Phase 1 of the Program in March 2017. “Consultations with a project steering committee, employers, and other stakeholders during this phase revealed that recruiting and retaining appropriately skilled employees at the wage rate employers could afford was the most common labour market challenge facing the industry,” says Andrew Klukas, WCSA President.
Phase 2 of this program began in late 2017. Its purpose was to uncover additional insights into the issues affecting the labour market in the industry, to identify the issues underlying the labour market challenges the industry is facing, and to present potential options to address them.
This project included surveys of some 200 employers and well over 400 employees, along with 25 one-on-one interviews. The second phase of this project is now complete and you can view the report at www.thewcsa.com. The report includes recommendations in relation to:
- Youth engagement and retention
- Underrepresented populations
- Industry-wide recruitment support that responds to the diverse needs of different store types and locations.
- Options to make the Temporary Foreign Worker Program more accessible
- Improving the employee value proposition
- Strategies to enhance employee engagement and productivity.
- Understanding of skill gaps and development of training strategies that respond to these gaps
- Re-branding employment in the industry
- Awareness/knowledge around the potential benefits of automation.
“I would like to extend my thanks to the committee members and especially David Charron at Suncor for the energy he has put into this project,” says Klukas.
The next step is to secure funding to develop a comprehensive labour market strategy to address issues and recommendations identified to date. Phase 4 (likely in 2019 – 2020) will involve implementation of identified solutions.
Meanwhile, the WCSA has been working on ways to make Canada’s Temporary Foreign Workers Program more accessible to Impact Assessment (LMIA) application to the federal government. This involves posting the job(s) on several sites sites for at least four weeks prior to submitting the LMIA application to demonstrate that underrepresented groups of Canadians were pursued and considered for the position (e.g. disabled people, aboriginals, youth).
A job posting can receive hundreds of applications from within and outside Canada and these need to be screened to ensure the applicant is serious about wanting the job (and not simply applying in order to meet EI requirements). The employer must also submit a detailed list of Canadians who applied for the position; the number of Canadians interviewed for the position, and detailed explanations for why the Canadian candidates considered were not hired. Due to government backlogs it takes six to eight months to learn if your application has been approved.
The list goes on…
The expedited program:
The good news is that a new program stream is becoming available and, thanks to the WCSA, the C-store industry stands to be first in line to access it.
The Canadian government has committed to expediting the immigration of 20,000 workers from the Solomon Islands due to the impact of rising sea levels on their habitable land. Under this program there is a one month processing time once the LMIA application has been submitted.
However, there are other benefits to this program:
- Solomon Islanders are trained for up to three (3) months by the Canadian government (CITREC) and the WCSA is arranging to include training specific to the convenience & gas industry (such as age verification)
- Solomon Islanders’ first language is English
- All Solomon Islands workers will be security screened (INTERPOL and CSIS) prior to being able to come to Canada (this is at government’s expense of approximately $2,000 per individual)
- Your job is posted at 10 sites for the required periods to cover all of Service Canada’s requirements, and all applicants are screened for you
- The ads are kept ‘live’ for you in case you want to hire another foreign worker later
- Remote online interviews can be arranged with foreign applicants on request
- A summary sheet is prepared for the required interview between the employer and Service Canada and, if requested, presence of personal support for the employer during the interview
- Arrangement of all immigration matters (work visas, ETA’s, travel)
- Once approved, arrangements are made to pick up the worker at the airport and set up their Social Insurance Number and banking
- We are also exploring securing of affordable housing
- If it turns out the employee is not a good fit for the position, efforts are made to find them another job through an LMIA from another employer
One of the greatest benefits however is that LMIA applications are specific to the employer and the worker is named under each LMIA. Since they are valid for two years, the program can provide enhanced employment stability during at least the first the two-years of employment.
Furthermore, the cost of accessing this program is expected to be roughly in line with the cost of hiring domestic workers. “Given the high turnover rate in the industry, and the fact that it costs employers between $2,000 and $4,000 to successfully hire an employee, this program can’t be beat.”
For further information or if you are interested in submitting and LMIA, please contact Andrew Klukas atAndrew@conveniencestores.ca