The Fernie Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Tourism Fernie, is excited to officially launch a new website designed to attract much-needed workers to the Elk Valley. The ‘Work in Fernie’ workforce attraction website and online job board aims to address the ongoing labour shortages experienced by many businesses in Fernie, by showcasing the diversity of careers and amazing lifestyle on offer in the area to potential workers. In addition to the job listings, there is a wealth of inspirational content and key resources for those job seekers looking to move to the region.
Fernie Chamber Executive Director Brad Parsell explains, “Fernie has done a great job over the years attracting enough workers for the ski season with our incredible terrain and reputation for deep powder snow. But once the season ends and those seasonal staff continue their travels, our year-round businesses struggle to find enough staff for the spring, summer, and fall. This has become a real issue now that we are seeing winter-levels of tourist visitation in the summer, with a much smaller labour pool to draw on to power our businesses. All of that is playing out against the backdrop of an overall aging workforce in BC, where more people are leaving the workforce than are entering it. We need to attract workers to our region from outside BC.”
“Local labour-intensive businesses like hotels and restaurants are in a constant cycle of re-hiring and re-training staff from season to season, which is a costly exercise. This issue has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw many of the Elk Valley’s foreign workers on temporary work permits returning to their home countries. Access to a stable workforce is a key economic development pillar for Fernie and the Elk Valley if local businesses are to not only survive this pandemic – but grow and be successful in the future. Any hope of attracting new entrepreneurs, businesses and investment will also hinge on the ability for these new ventures to be adequately staffed year-round.”
The idea of building a workforce attraction program was identified by the Fernie Chamber of Commerce board of directors in their 2019/2020 strategic plan. This issue was also identified as a priority action item in the soon-to-be-launched Fernie Tourism Master Plan and is aligned with a project area in the Kootenay Rockies Destination Development Strategy. The ‘Work in Fernie’ project concept was developed by the Fernie Chamber of Commerce in late 2019, with seed funding for the project awarded through the Rural Dividend Fund – administered by the Government of British Columbia’s Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
A close collaborator with the Fernie Chamber, Tourism Fernie is a key partner on the ‘Work in Ferne’ project. Tourism Fernie generously furnished the new website with donated photography assets and will assist with ongoing marketing support of the project. It is the hope of the two organizations that this project will help to alleviate some of the challenges the labour shortage issue has brought to tourism operators, and the broader business community in the Elk Valley – especially as they face an uncertain economic recovery from COVID-19.
Local businesses throughout the Elk Valley are encouraged to start posting their job opportunities on www.workinfernie.com by clicking on ‘Post A Job’ to sign up on the home page. Fernie Chamber staff are available to help businesses sign up for the first time. Social media accounts and digital marketing efforts will be launched soon to support the initiative with ongoing annual investment. The ‘Work in Fernie’ website project is working in collaboration with Go2HR, Kootenay Employment Services, and the local Fernie WorkBC office.
For more information contact:
Brad Parsell – Executive Director, Fernie Chamber of Commerce