From fast food to restaurants like Lance Verhoeff’s Trading Post, local service industry businesses are having trouble finding workers. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

From fast food to restaurants like Lance Verhoeff’s Trading Post, local service industry businesses are having trouble finding workers. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

Langley businesses competing for workers

The service industry in particular is seeing their labour pool shrink.

The job market in Langley is running low on workers, with employers finding fewer people applying for jobs.

“It’s certainly tightening up,” said Ron Knight, who owns two local McDonalds franchises.

McDonalds is a “first job employer,” but Knight said there is a lot more competition now for high school grads in particular.

“We put out a job posting today, the responses aren’t what they were a year or two ago,” he said.

Lance Verhoeff, general manager of Trading Post Brewing, agrees.

The brewery itself is relatively easy to staff.

“Where we do struggle is in the back of the house, for kitchen staff,” Verhoeff said.

Jobs such as dishwasher don’t have great hours, and it means working in a hot kitchen.

“The pay for that type of position isn’t really high,” said Verhoeff.

Colleen Clark, executive director of the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce, is hearing about these issues from a number of local businesses.

Restaurants and retail outlets are having more trouble finding workers, and there are a lot of administrative assistant job listings locally, Clark said.

“I don’t know what the reason for it is, but I know there is a bit of a shortage,” Clark said.

It’s far from local to Langley.

According to the most recent statistics on the B.C. labour force, unemployment is dropping, and job growth is outpacing the number of people entering the labour force.

In September, the unemployment rate dipped to 4.9 per cent, down from 5.6 per cent a year ago. B.C. has the lowest unemployment rate in the country as the economy booms.

Meanwhile, 85,100 jobs were created, while 69,100 people entered the work force over 12 months.

One factor locally may be an increase in entrepreneurship – more people are starting small businesses of their own, Clark said.

Knight said paying competitively is important, but making sure workers have flexibility and can get shifts that suit them best is also key.

“If you do have enough staff, you’re able to offer flexibility,” Knight said.

Verhoeff also said that his business is having to become more creative at recruiting and retaining workers.

“It’s just become a big issue across Canada,” he said.