The prospects of finding a job are looking brighter in the Harbour City as unemployment rates continue to drop.
Nanaimo’s unemployment rate was 4.8 per cent in April, steadily declining from 6.5 per cent in February and a stark contrast to the 16.3 per cent of last April.
The city falls below the Vancouver Island and Coast average of six per cent. The northeastern region of British Columbia has the lowest unemployment with a 4.2-per cent unemployment rate.
Melodi Wood, owner of Express Employment Professionals, which has operated in Nanaimo for about 17 years helping people find employment, said the company is starting to see a slight increase in job opportunities.
But Wood doesn’t believe the slight shift in employment prospects is enough to reflect the change in the statistics.
Wood said many clients have simply moved out of Nanaimo to find jobs.
Despite the drop, overall unemployment levels remain high for youth across the country, said Steve Arnett, Nanaimo Youth Services Association executive director.
He said the rate for youth ages 15-30 is 13.6 per cent. It’s usually higher at this time of year because post-secondary students are getting out of school and “flooding into the job market”.
“When the economy isn’t great it is always a struggle [to find work],”Arnett said.
All 24 graduates of NYSA’s recent BladeRunners program immediately secured a job in the construction industry. Arnett said that’s unusual because only about six or seven participants usually have jobs lined up to enter as soon as they graduate. Other participants find work, but it usually takes longer.
The construction, retail and hospitality sectors are areas where NYSA is seeing movement and seasonal positions are coming up. Arnett said the retail and hospitality are being a “little more cautious” of who is being hired because with increases to the minimum wage, there is a higher overhead to consider.
Arnett said he senses a little bit more optimism in the community about the state of the economy.
4.8 per cent – Nanaimo’s unemployment rate
6.2 per cent – British Columbia’s unemployment rate
7.3 per cent – Canada’s unemployment rate
Vancouver Island and the Coast has an unemployment rating of six per cent.
The Lower Mainland and southwest region is was at 6.6 per cent.
*Figures from Statistics Canada for April 2012.
An upcoming employment forums aims to raise awareness and gather information on how to recognize the skills and create more opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities in the workforce.
The Central-Upper Island Community Council, a group of volunteers working with Community Living B.C., hosts the forum May 28 from 6-8 p.m. at Oliver Woods Community Centre, located at 6000 Oliver Rd. The council is inviting the public to participate in a question and answer session with panellists.
The speakers include : Jean Maltesen, dean of career and academic preparation for Vancouver Island University; Shelly Gerber, CLBC quality service analyst; Cassandra McParlan, Staples manager; and Barb Barry from the Nanaimo association for Community Living.
Participants are asked to pre-register for the forum by e-mailing email@example.com.
For more information, please go to www.communitylivingbc.ca.