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Despite brighter job market, more unemployed giving up

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Pam Wright

Despite a stronger job market, the unemployed are finding it harder to get work, according to a recent national survey.

The length of long-term unemployment has rising to an average of 19 months, and four in 10 discouraged workers have simply quit looking, according to the Express Employment Professionals study, which sampled 1,510 jobless Canadians adults.

“There are help wanted signs everywhere you look, yet we’re seeing a very low labour force participation rate,” said Bruce Hein, franchise owner of the Sarnia Express office.

“In today’s market, businesses should be hiring for attitude and training for the skills they need.”

The executive director of the Sarnia-Lambton Workforce Development Board agrees.

“We’re seeing a change,” Shauna Carr said. “Increasingly the focus is shifting to soft skills, work ethic, motivation and the ability to work as a team.”

Good customer service is also high on the list of what employers seek in a new hire, she added.

Carr said the gap between employer expectations and what’s available out there is being address by training and employment organizations.

“By necessity, we are looking at progressive moves,” Carr noted, adding workers can learn the hard skills on the job.

“We need to prize dependability and work ethic, not just book smarts,” she said, adding Ontario school boards are getting on board.

As for the long-term unemployed, Carr urges them to stay the course.

“We don’t want them to check out,” she said. “We need them.”

The national unemployment rate reached a decades low of 5.8% in May, according to Statistics Canada. In Sarnia-Lambton, the jobless rate stood at 6.7% in March, the last month for which statistics are available, according to the Board.

Hein said both sides have a role to play in a job search.

“Prospective employees need to bring a good attitude to the table and be neat, clean and dependable,” he said, adding employers should learn to look beyond stereotypes.

“For those who genuinely want to go to work, just get something and start,” Hein advises.

“Get some experience. Get something on your resume.”

 

FACTS FROM THE SURVEY:

 

* Some 38% of the unemployed agree with the statement: “I’ve completely given up on looking for a job.

 

* Year-over-year job vacancies were up in nine of Canada’s 13 provincial and territory jurisdictions in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to Statistics Canada, according to Statistics Canada.

 

* There are 1,555,000 unemployed and just under 500,000 job vacancies nationwide.

 

* The unemployed reported they are putting less effort into looking for work, spending 12.3 hours per week on average.

 

* More than half, 53%, had zero interviews in the previous month.

 

Employment tips and resources can be found online at Express Employment Professionals and Employment Ontario.

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