There may not be as many 'Help Wanted' signs in windows around town as there were a year ago, but that doesn't mean there aren't positions to be had.
"What we are seeing is that jobs in construction and skilled trades have not slowed down, in fact, they have peaked — especially during the pandemic," said Natalie Szewczyk, program manager with the Sea to Sky WorkBC Employment Services Centre, noting that construction jobs may have initially slowed down right after the pandemic was declared, but then they picked back up.
"I don't want to say it is pandemic-proof, but it has been pretty stable as far as we can see," she said.
Training for those types of jobs is available currently too, with many trade schools offering courses at least partially online.
Squamish also has a lot of customer service, retail, food, and beverage jobs, according to Szewczyk.
Janitorial cleaning positions across the Sea to Sky have always been in demand, and continue to be, with new businesses starting up, she added.
"I think some people are seizing the moment and creating new businesses and therefore needing to hire — and those jobs can pay pretty well."
Cleaning business employers are often willing to be quite flexible with hours, too, she said.
Many employers in general are being more flexible, such as offering work-from-home opportunities, Szewczyk added.
"Whether or not those will be permanent, for the time being, it does work. I think that — in the grand scheme of things — that could actually change a lot of job opportunities for the future as well."
Szewczyk said that while employers may not advertise that they have flexible options for employees, it is worth it for job seekers to ask.
"I think job seekers would be quite surprised how flexible a lot of employers are being with the jobs that they are offering, in almost every sector."
There is also more demand now than a year ago for delivery drivers and warehouse positions.
"That is increasing more than normal," Szewczyk said. "That obviously was never that prevalent in Squamish, but it has become more of a higher need now... from small deliveries for food and beverage to transport trucks."
A variety of other administrative and professional jobs are also popping up.
"The tech industry in Squamish is continuing to grow," Szewczyk said, adding more businesses also have environment-related positions available in town.
In terms of what she is hearing from job seekers, Szewczyk said the centre is currently seeing employees who lost jobs due to the pandemic and those who are concerned about the uncertainty in their careers.
"We are exploring a lot of conversations around training for a new career, looking for new work. We are seeing lots of people transitioning into trades and construction. But we are definitely having a lot more conversations of people using this opportunity to get into jobs they may not have had before."
She said that it is important for job seekers not to be dependent on 'Help Wanted' signs in windows or postings on online forums.
"We are still hearing from employers who are struggling to fill positions. Some have been advertising for awhile, but I think it is almost safe to say, if there are certain employers that job seekers have their eye on, or certain industries, nothing beats picking up the phone and calling those employers, rather than just waiting for job postings."
Squamish's population and development growth makes it unique in the job market, she said.
"We are seeing people who are not wanting to commute to Vancouver or Whistler. They want to be able to live and work in their own community," she said. "The great thing about that is that with the growth of Squamsh, it has created a lot more variety of jobs. We are seeing a lot more professional and well-paying jobs. We are also attracting new businesses to come and settle here."
Szewczyk credits the economic development team at the District for stimulating some of that business growth.
"That is something that I see that is going to continue, pandemic or not, and I think that is something great for the Squamish community to look forward to," she said.
Szewczyk notes that WorkBC offers a lot of resources for Squamish job seekers and employers looking to hire.
Staff at the centre can help job seekers source opportunities, or access training or resources for pursuing self employment.
The provincial government has expanded the federal wage subsidy for job seekers, which the centre can also help locals access.
"The wage subsidy program for job seekers has always been available, but they have just loosened up the eligibility criteria, which previously was given out to people who have EI attachment. That is no longer the case. It is temporary, but it is a really good tool for job seekers, and even for employers as well, who have candidates who they want to hire that may not necessarily have the financials to get the person's wages paid and WorkBC can help with that."
Find that program here: https://www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Wage-Subsidy.aspx
Find the local WorkBC Centre here: https://workbccentre-squamish.ca/