Fort McMurray businesses struggling to find qualified workers, survey says

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Fort McMurray businesses struggling to find qualified workers, survey says

Fort McMurray businesses are having a tough time hiring people for skilled labour jobs, despite the number of applications per job rising after the wildfire.

That's according to a survey of 106 businesses and 310 job seekers released Thursday.

Many businesses reported they are looking to hire employees in management or the certified trades.

Often when the businesses advertised jobs, they received hundreds of applications but few candidates were qualified, according to Mark Baxter, president of Outlook Marketing, which conducted the survey. 

Thirty per cent of businesses surveyed found skilled and professional jobs were the most difficult to fill after May's wildfire.

Baxter found most job seekers wanted positions in the oil and gas sector, but 14 per cent wanted jobs in professional services, government or administration. 

Although employers want to fill jobs in these sectors, Baxter said, applicants aren't getting hired because they don't have enough experience.

​"There is a young labour force," Baxter said. "There has to be a process to get these young workers to raise their level of experience."

Baxter said many businesses are trying to recruit outside Fort McMurray but are running into roadblocks. 

Many Canadians still have a negative view of the oilsands capital and that has worsened with the devastating wildfire last May, Baxter said.

"There is a perception out there that there isn't enough housing, health services or recreation," Baxter said. "It's harder to attract people, there is a branding problem here."

Follow David Thurton, CBC's Fort McMurray correspondent, on Facebook, Twitter or contact him via email.