Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ikea: Swedish word for jobs

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IF you want to work for Ikea, you don't necessarily need to be able to work an Allen key.

The retail furniture giant is looking to hire 300 people. While many of the positions will be on the sales floor helping customers, there will also be a number of jobs you'd expect to see in a head office.

They include roles in IT, graphic art and interior design, Stephen Bobko, store manager for Ikea Winnipeg, said.

The total workforce could climb as high as 350 and Bobko said there is more than a little interest from Ikea workers in other cities.

"We're excited to see a lot of Winnipeggers in Ikea stores throughout the country have put up their hands to be part of the project and to come home," he said.

One of the keenest followers of the provincial job market couldn't recall the last time, or any time for that matter, 300 sustainable jobs were announced in one fell swoop.

"I would think the provincial government would just be delighted and I think anybody who lives in Manitoba should be delighted. I think we should cheer for more days like this," said John McCallum, a finance professor at the University of Manitoba.

It's not uncommon for a major construction project, such as the Canadian Museum for Human Rights or the new Winnipeg Blue Bombers stadium, to hire a significant number of people but they're for a finite period, he said.

"These are secure, sustainable, good jobs that will be based on a high-quality company providing a retail service for a long time," he said.

Ikea will almost single-handedly make up for the 400 jobs Manitoba lost in the last year, McCallum said.

There will be an undetermined number of spinoff jobs, too, for accounting and legal services and other things Ikea might not want to do in-house.

Unlike the Investors Group Field, Ikea's 390,000-square-foot store hasn't been negatively affected by the weather and is on schedule for a late November or early December opening.

When the ribbon is cut, it will be the second-biggest Ikea store in the country, trailing only the new store in Ottawa. A few months after that, an expanded Montreal location will assume the title with more than 400,000 square feet.

There are more than a few perks of working for Ikea. Employees can eat at an employee restaurant that offers subsidized meals and they'll have access to their own lounge and meditation room.

They may even need to dust off their passport. The company's "backpacker" initiative provides the opportunity to travel for a year and work alongside experienced mentors in different stores around the world. Bobko said Ikea has one of the lowest turnover rates of any retailer in Canada.

Would-be workers can apply via the company's website, www.ikea.ca .

 

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 21, 2012 A3

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