Robert Ellis happily hands off his resume to Tourism Tofino’s Flynn Saunderson and Jody Kirk at Friday’s West Coast Job Expo. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Robert Ellis happily hands off his resume to Tourism Tofino’s Flynn Saunderson and Jody Kirk at Friday’s West Coast Job Expo. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

West Coast Job Expo connects in Tofino

“The job market, as we all know, gets crazy in the summer.”

Tofino’s Best Western Tin Wis Resort was buzzing with connective energy between job seekers and job creators on Friday.

About 35 local employers set up booths at the Alberni Valley Employment Centre’s West Coast Job Expo rolling out the red carpet for potential employees and laying out local career and summer job opportunities.

Municipal councillor Duncan McMaster attended the event as Tofino’s acting mayor and said it was a valuable matchmaking event for employers and prospective employees.

“We all know how busy employers are and this allows them to set up and meet a lot of prospective youngsters that are looking for jobs in the summer and the youngsters can see that there’s all sorts of jobs here,” McMaster said. “They get to see a lot of different jobs that are available rather than being tempted to just take the first job that’s available.”

He added the timing is right for local youth to be looking to get their foot in the door.

“The job market, as we all know, gets crazy in the summer and the people that try to get a job now tend to secure the best jobs,” he said. “It’s an ‘early bird catches the worm’ sort of thing.”

Ucluelet Secondary School teacher David McPherson chaperoned a school trip to the event and said it was beneficial for the students to see what’s available and learn how to break the ice with employers.

“They can try to find summer jobs and they can get experience making that first contact, which is often very intimidating for students,” he said. “They can also explore potential careers in the area. For those students who don’t want to move away for work, this is a chance for them to start thinking about what the options are down the road.”

One of those students was 14 year-old Ava Law who was thrilled with the opportunity to see what’s available.

“I get to see the options that I have for places I can work in the future and places I can work now if I want to,” she said. “I can see all the different options and I can compare all the different options, which is helpful.”

T’ashii Paddle School instructor Emre Bosut attended the event to meet interested youth and explain both the school’s job and training opportunities.

“It’s great to see the high school kids and great to connect with the local community,” he said.

Bosut’s colleague Tsimka Martin has worked as a guide since high school and encourages youth to get into the field.

“In Tla-o-qui-aht territory there’s lots of beautiful areas to paddle….You’ve got exposure to the swell and then you’ve got the beautiful calm inlet side, so there’s really nice dynamic areas to be paddling in,” she said. “Guiding can help develop a person’s public speaking skills as well as their confidence and you’re working with people so there’s group management and safety; it really involves a lot.”

Lisa Stewart of Creative Salmon was happy to showcase full-time, year-round, opportunities in the local aquaculture industry.

“Resumes can be a powerful tool, but meeting people face to face can really go a long way to knowing whether they’re going to be a good fit for you and whether the job is going to be a good fit for them because you can explain it in a lot more detail,” she said.

She added that while having experience is helpful, it isn’t always necessary for finding a new career.

“We train on the job,” she said. “The biggest thing we’re looking for with people is people who are going to like the environment they are going to be working in and the kind of work they’re going to be doing and that they’re going to be reliable.”