Labour Market Survey asks the questions Revelstoke needs answered

By David F. Rooney
What may be Revelstoke’s first Labour Market Survey should shine an accurate light on the current state of the local labour situation say its developers, Garry Pendergast and Janet Lemieux of GRP Educational Services.
They have so far surveyed over 64 of the 320 small and relatively large firms that exist in Revelstoke. They hope to get more than 100 businesses to answer their detailed 37-page survey. Here are some of the key questions the survey seeks to answer if our city is to develop a coherent labour market strategy:

  1. What is the age and educational profile of the current and desired workforce for both employees and contracted workers?
  2. What is the job profile of the current — and desired future — workforce?
  3. What attraction and retention policies, if any, are being used by local businesses?
  4. What training is needed now and in the future?

If they can manage that then the survey results, which are to be released in April, should be very revealing.
“This is a very comprehensive survey,” Pendergast said in an interview on Tuesday, February 3. “We are very confident that this survey will be very accurate.”
Ultimately, its results should help employers make informed decisions regarding labour market shortages, employee training and ways to attract and retain the staff they need to be successful.
“The thing I find most interesting is the level of staffing at local businesses,” Lemieux said during the interview. “Most of those we have surveyed have plans to either maintain or expand their current operations. The other thing I’ve found interesting is the amount of time some of them have been here in Revelstoke. One of them has been operating here for 90 years.”
Pendergast said one of the things he and Lemieux have gleaned from their mostly face-to-face interviews with business owners is that some of them are very concerned about our aging population. The number of young people committed to staying in Revelstoke after high school appears to be decreasing. This may be most apparent in the forestry industry, which had traditionally been a major source of jobs for local RSS graduates.
It impossible for any business, or local government for that matter, to make effective plans for the future without accurate information, Pendergast said.
“How will we compete against all the other communities, cities and countries vying for workers from the same small pool of talented workers without that kind of information?” he asked.
Information is power and there is surprisingly little accurate knowledge about local labour-market requirements. The last time Statistics Canada administered the highly accurate long-form Census was in 2006.
Oh, as Pendergast said during a presentation at a Community Futures meeting last week, we know some things:

  • Over one million job openings are expected in BC by 2011;
  • 68% of those jobs will be due to retirement;
  • 32 % will be due to economic growth; and
  • According to BC Stats the demand for workers will surpass supply by 2019.

Then there are some things we know about the skills shortage that already exists:

  • 34% of predicted job openings (323,000) will require a university degree;
  • 44% (431,000) will require college or apprenticeship training;
  • 18% (175,000) will require a high school diploma or occupational-specific training; and only
  • 5% (46,700) will go to people who lack even a high school diploma.

Accurate information from employers may well lead to a study involving workers themselves. However, while that may yet come, it is not part of this survey’s purview, Pendergast said.
Revelstoke is not the only community look at its labour and economic needs. Please click here to ready about a somewhat similar initiative in Sicamous.
Please click here to see Pendergast’s presentation to Community Futures.
An online version of the survey should soon be available on the Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce website.
To learn more or to make an appointment to take the survey business owners or managers are encouraged to contact Garry Pendergast at 250-814-9325 or send an e-mail to They can also contact Janet Lemieux by phone at 250-814-8535 or by e-mail at