Portage la Prairie area companies need employees and they're struggling to find them.

Roquette spent a half-a-billion dollars in investment into the community, and recruiter Craig Goldstein completely agrees.

"Yeah, it's really tough," says Goldstein. "There's a lot of challenges out there. There are a lot of opportunities. Everybody has choices, so you have to be one of the ones that make a difference that they choose you. But there are lots out there. What's going to separate you from the rest? That's on the company."

Roquette had a table at the Job Fair this past Thursday and Friday, and Goldstein notes quite a few interested people came by and spoke to him.

"We've got everything from entry-level positions to some really qualified candidates for our production operator roles," continues Goldstein. "I was pleasantly surprised, actually. It's quite neat." 

He adds there's a mix of youth and experienced people looking for work.

"The experienced are looking for change and the students are looking for what they're told to by their teachers, but they're asking good questions," adds Goldstein. "That's the one thing. Even the students who are kind of 'voluntold' to come out today, they're asking good, meaningful questions, which is encouraging. They're important, right?"

Homestead Co-op HR advisor Tammy Hammersley was also at the job fair and agrees that recruiting employees has been more difficult the last couple of years. 

"Events like this are fantastic," says Hammersley. "Today we had even Grade 8 students from Arthur Meighen, and they were very engaged and I enjoyed talking to each and every one of them."

Tammy HammersleyTammy Hammersley

She explains she started to realize that something unexpected occurred during the pandemic.

"I always thought it was COVID, but I've been reading articles and stuff lately, too, that it could be partially because with COVID, some of the baby boomers have retired," notes Hammersley. "Working from home was not their scene, so they just decided to take early retirement or that kind of thing. So, now we're trying to fill those gaps as well."

Hammersley adds they're starting to come around and get more applicants, causing things to look up.