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Looking for work?

Manitoba a pretty good place to find it, survey shows

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Skilled tradespeople are needed in Manitoba in the next 10 years for housing and hydro-dam construction, data show. The construction sector has nine per cent of available jobs provincewide.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

Skilled tradespeople are needed in Manitoba in the next 10 years for housing and hydro-dam construction, data show. The construction sector has nine per cent of available jobs provincewide. Photo Store

Take heart, local job seekers.

A new survey of 50 Canadian cities by job search engine Adzuna.ca found Winnipeg is one of the best cities and Manitoba is one of the best provinces or territories in which to find work.

The rankings are based on the number of job seekers (Employment Insurance beneficiaries) per advertised job vacancy in each city, province or territory. Manitoba ranked third among the provinces and territories with 3.14 job seekers for every job vacancy, and Winnipeg ranked ninth among the cities with 3.61.

By comparison, the province/territory with the lowest ranking -- Newfoundland and Labrador -- had 19.71 job seekers for every vacant job, and the metropolitan area with the lowest ranking -- Cape Breton -- had a staggering 32.30.

If you're an unemployed tradesperson, BuildForce Canada, an industry-led organization that compiles labour-market data and analysis for Canada's construction industry, released a report Thursday that forecasts a growing demand for skilled tradespeople in Manitoba during the next 10 years.

It said more workers will be needed as new hydro-dam projects get underway and the residential and non-residential construction sectors continue to enjoy a healthy level of activity.

"A select group of skilled trades will be in high demand for major hydro projects," said BuildForce Canada executive director Rosemary Sparks. "Industry will need to keep its focus on skills training, recruitment and mobility to meet project requirements."

The Adzuna report, entitled, Where Are All the Jobs?, said Alberta offers the best chance of finding a job, with only 1.27 job seekers per vacancy. Saskatchewan was second with 2.71.

Grande Prairie, Alta., had the top city ranking, with 1.38 job seekers for each position.

John McCallum, an economist with the University of Manitoba's Asper School of Business, said he wasn't surprised to hear Manitoba and Winnipeg are ranked so high, because you often hear businesses say their biggest challenge is finding enough skilled workers.

But he questioned why, if Manitoba is ranked up there with Alberta and Saskatchewan, employment growth here isn't stronger.

"Our employment growth is not nearly as good as you would expect, given that statistic... Alberta and Saskatchewan are creating jobs like crazy, so why aren't we?"

He said the only reason he can think of is the people looking for work don't have the skills employers need, and if that's the case, the provincial government needs to boost funding for job-training programs.

The Adzuna survey also looked at average annualized salaries in each city and province or territory and how they've done over the last six months. Winnipeg's and Manitoba's average salaries of $46,393 and $48,831, respectively, were near the middle of the pack.

But among the 10 largest cities, Winnipeg had the third-biggest salary increase -- three per cent -- over the last six months, said Gabriel Puliatti, Adzuna's country manager for Canada. The national average increase was two per cent.

Adzuna also looked at which types of jobs are most in demand right now. In Manitoba, the retail, trade and construction sectors had the most available positions, at nine per cent each. In Winnipeg, it was administration jobs, with 10 per cent of the available positions.

Puliatti said that while hiring slowed in Canada in December and early January, "in the last month we've seen an increase in the number of jobs available across all sectors. So we're definitely seeing an improvement... compared to December."

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 21, 2014 B6

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