Finding and retaining a strong workforce has been an ongoing struggle for local businesses, but the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce wants owners to know the organization is in their corner.
“The chamber is always working to advocate on behalf of businesses,” said Brad Kiendl, president of the chamber. “We’ve always been a voice of business. We certainly work closely with municipal, provincial and the federal government to express some of these concerns and then ultimately working with politicians to see if there are ways they can support local business.”
The problem of retaining staff is not clear-cut, which makes pinpointing the source of the issue difficult, Kiendl explained.
“It’s a common theme that at every level there’s talent shortages,” he said. “It’s getting harder for people to obtain staff and I don’t know if that’s a factor of housing affordability, where people are moving further and further east… or if it just simply that there is not enough skilled workers compared to the demand in the market.”
But what is clear is the increase in minimum wage to $13.85 an hour from $12.65 an hour in June 2019 has played a role.
“It gets tougher probably now with the minimum wage being higher than it use to be,” Kiendl noted.
”I think a lot of businesses use to higher entry level and spend a lot of time training staff… and working them into skilled positions in their business… Nowadays I don’t know if it’s just a different mentality with the workforce, I find a lot of people are hopping from job to job a lot more frequently.”
Wages are set to rise again to $14.60 an hour in June and once more to $15.20 an hour in June 2021.
“It is a challenge right now for businesses and I think really what’s happening is businesses end up paying higher for employees than they otherwise would have years ago, which ultimately drives the cost of the product they are providing up slightly.”
Finding and retaining good staff is one of the most common complaints the Langley chamber receives from business owners, Kiendl explained.
There have been cases of businesses forced to turn down contracts because they lack the workforce to complete the job, he added
“If you were to speak with people in the construction industry, it’s been a challenge for years,” he said. “Finding good skilled traders workers to fulfill those projects that business owners are taking on.”
Although Kiendl said he isn’t aware of a simple fix he invites local business owners to share their concerns with the chamber.
“Is there one simple solution? I don’t think so.”