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Unique job fair hopes to give retailers an early Christmas gift; more staff

London, Ont. -

Retailers are facing the same challenge as restaurants and other sectors that deal with the public, experienced staff have left and it doesn’t look like they’re coming back.

While many people are now comfortable visiting the mall to do their shopping, research by Cadillac Fairview (CF), the company that owns and operates Masonville Place and other malls across the country, shows about 20 to 25 per cent are still uneasy when it comes to going indoors to shop

“So that’s probably also the case with job seekers. Some might be a little nervous about getting back into the workforce,” says Masonville Place General Manager Sandra Lorentiu.

Encouraged by tenants, Masonville Place will take the unique step of holding a job fair in the centre of the mall on Thursday, Oct. 7, combining it with Cadillac Fairview’s online recruitment tool called ‘CF Front Door.’

Lorentiu says 32 businesses are taking part, “We have socially distanced tables. Recruiters and job-seekers will be sitting six feet apart. As well, masks will be mandatory, with sanitizer stations throughout the centre.” Lorentiu says they also have a system to deal with lines, if they emerge.

Retailers say early response to the job fair has been encouraging, including Jesse Figueiredo, with video game retailer Game Stop.

“Overall, we’ve had a pretty good response. We’ve had about 70 people applying just for a part-time job, just at our store specifically. In general, it’s created a lot of buzz.”

Retail Council of Canada spokesperson Michelle Wasylyshen says staff shortages aren’t restricted to front-line workers, “At almost all levels we have gaps in people. So, whether it’s front-line staff, skilled operators, truck drivers, we have a lot of gaps in the retail environment.”

One change that may help bolster the workforce is the end of federal pandemic benefits, set to expire Oct. 23. Wasylyshen says the benefits provided a necessary means to help keep the economy stable, but says it’s a delicate balancing act when it comes to protecting people or potentially creating a disincentive to work.

She says many retailers have been adding incentives, “Everything from more flexible work schedules, wellness benefits, new discounts, higher wages. All of those things are in play. We’ve also seen significant increase in employee training.”

Lorentiu can see a growing interest in people looking to return to work, “I think we can do this safely and together.”

As for shoppers, Wasylyshen says they should consider getting the Christmas gift purchases done early, to avoid possible delays created by workforce shortages.

The job fair runs from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. on Thursday. Top Stories

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