If you are in business in Alberta these days, chances are you are having a tough time filling the ranks with qualified employees.

Rising need with fewer qualified employees, an aging workforce and an ever-competitive global marketplace challenge corporations daily to supply the labour they need to be successful.

The problem doesn’t discriminate; whether you are running Calgary Transit or searching for roughnecks for a drilling rig, finding people to fill the employment void is becoming a complex and time-consuming task.

In the city of Calgary, a loss of or lack of qualified city planners has limped an already maxed out staff, while a shortage of city bus drivers has left some parts of the city without regular transit service. The city of Edmonton is also feeling the same pinch at the municipal level.

The tight labour market is expected to continue, according to Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry (AEII), which expects the need for an additional 60,000 employees by 2011.

Alberta already has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, at 3.4 per cent at the beginning of this month — nearly a full percentage point below Sask-atchewan, which also boasts a strong oil and gas sector, the same driving force behind labour growth in Alberta.

Immigration and migration from other provinces is expected to be the primary well from which employees are drawn, though the AEII cites skill shortages in industries that are already demanding skilled individuals, placing the spotlight on increased training for people who are coming to the province.

For companies with the fortune of a full complement of staff, the challenges will not necessarily be attracting new employees, but retaining them. Organizations will be forced to adapt to the changing workplace and the needs of their employees today and in the future.

The Alberta Works section puts the spotlight on the job market in Alberta, with both employer and employee perspectives, highlighting the intense competition for employees — and jobs — in the province of Alberta.

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