Surrey job fair attracts 4,700 seeking employment and 102 businesses

Statistics Canada's latest labour force survey reveals this country lost 31,200 jobs in July but B.C. gained 12,000

Hundreds of job seekers attended the Ninth Annual Mega Job Fair and Business Expo 2016, in Whalley, on Thursday

Hundreds of job seekers attended the Ninth Annual Mega Job Fair and Business Expo 2016, in Whalley, on Thursday

SURREY — Forty-seven hundred job seekers tried their luck Thursday at an all-day “mega” job fair and business exposition in Whalley as Statistics Canada’s latest labour force survey reveals this country lost 31,200 jobs in July and the national unemployment has risen to 6.9 per cent.

The Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society (PICS) held its ninth annual Mega Job Fair and Business Expo 2016 at the North Surrey Recreation Centre, with 102 businesses participating.

While Canada as a whole experienced its most dramatic drop over one month in full-time jobs in the past five years — and Canada’s unemployment rate rose from 6.8 per cent in June to 6.9 per cent in July — B.C. bucked the trend, gaining 12,000 jobs in July.

Statistics Canada’s survey indicates B.C.’s unemployment rate also declined 0.3 percentage points to 5.6 per cent — the lowest rate in Canada.

“In B.C. so far we’ve been lucky,” said Satbir Cheema, director of employment programs and planning  for PICS, a registered non-profit society.

Between July 2015 and July 2016 B.C. gained 85,000 jobs, enjoying the most rapid employment growth rate of all provinces.

Cheema said Thursday’s job fair “met our expectations.”

The day-long event, sponsored by Vancity, also featured workshops on budgeting, credit counselling, being your own boss, tripling your network success, and “English pronunciation  for success.”

Business services, trades, construction, education, financial and insurance services, food and beverage, government, health and wellness, non-profit societies, recruitment, retail, security, sport and entertainment, and technology and communications companies were represented among the 102 kiosks.

Samantha London, 18, of Langley said she’s having a hard time finding work and was among the many people hoping to score a job through the fair.

“Hopefully something where I can work with my hands, maybe construction or something,” she said.

Surrey MLA candidate Jagrup Brar was also there looking to secure a job — his old one, as NDP MLA for Surrey-Fleetwood. He held that riding from 2009 to 2013 until Liberal MLA Peter Fassbender defeated him.

Brar was busy working the floor, making connections. He worked at PICS before being elected, he said.

“I’m very pleased that PICS is doing a great job connecting the unemployed with the employer.”

While many people were hoping to score a job interview through the fair on Thursday, Brar said he’s got thousands of interviews ahead of him between now and the next provincial election, with roughly 14,000 doors to knock on, in his quest for votes. “I want to hit every door. That’s my goal.”

Anthony Nguyen, 21, of Port Moody filled out some job applications at the fair.

“I’m actually in an employment program by Douglas College, and I heard (about the job fair) through that program,” he said. “I’m applying to stuff I’m kinda interested in.”

He’s found the event worthwhile, he said.

“I actually did not know about the job market much and seeing all these jobs here I have more information.”

Said Josh Hilton, of Valley Driving School, “We’ve received a few resumes.

“Always lots of questions.”

Meanwhile, Statistics Canada’s labour force survey for July 2016 notes that for that month employment in the public sector dropped, but increased in health care and social assistance. There was little change in the number of private sector and self-employed workers.

The survey also notes that the hardest hit by unemployment in July, nationally, were those ages 15 to 24, with 28,000 part-time jobs lost making for a Canadian youth unemployment rate of 13.3 per cent.

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