Eight Ford stores look outside the box to find skilled labour


By Dave Halliday

EDMONTON, ALTA. – A shortage of skilled workers brought on by Alberta’s strong economy has convinced eight Edmonton-area Ford dealers to launch a collective recruiting campaign.

The eight Ford dealers set up Ford Edmonton Hires and launched the project May 1 on the www.edmontonfordhires.ca website, as well as Twitter and Facebook.

Terry Peck, fixed operations manager at Koch Ford Lincoln in Edmonton said this sort of joint effort is “pretty much unheard of” in the automotive business.

Half the dealers joined immediately and the remainder had to be convinced, he said. Four additional area Ford dealers, however, decided not to join the cooperative effort.

Participating stores are City Ford, Koch Ford Lincoln, Denny Andrews Ford, Freedom Ford, Heartland Ford, Sherwood Ford, Nisku Ford and Zender Ford.

“We decided to pool our resources and put our best foot forward to attract the best to a city with opportunities,” Peck said about the program.

The website categorizes the jobs by department – lot and detail, auto body, parts, service administrator and technicians.

“If you are driven to find logical solutions to difficult problems; exceed customer expectations; and fix it right the first time, we want you,” the website reads. “By submitting just one application, you are reaching eight potential employers-making sure you are matched to the right job, with the right dealer.”

After a few weeks, Peck said the campaign had attracted 20 resumes, including four from “high-quality candidates.” Some of the resumes are from the Philippines where Peck said job seekers watch the Internet closely.

The campaign also saves time for job hunters since one application now goes to eight Ford dealerships. When applicants visit the website, they will find detailed descriptions of available jobs as well as links to government guidelines for journeypersons, apprentices and working in Alberta.

With such great demand, qualified applicants can expect competitive offers and incentives, including possible relocation incentives for workers coming from outside Alberta or Canada, the dealers said in a news release.

Peck, who has hired workers from the United States and the Philippines, said he has spent thousands of dollars advertising for potential employees. Bringing in workers from the Philippines is costly and time consuming, but it can pay off once the workers arrive.

“Having them here is a pleasure,” he noted, adding that most are loyal and hard working. Many have friends or relatives in Alberta, which eases the adjustment to a new country.

The cooperative hiring program will run for six months before all the players involved assess it.

“We could look at expanding it to all other jobs at the dealerships.”

A key part of that assessment will be seeing what kind of traffic Edmonton Ford Hires generates. Peck said that more traffic means more choice in finding potential employees.