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Help needed on two fronts

['Perspectives with Shirley Hallee']
['Perspectives with Shirley Hallee']

Perspectives with Shirley Hallee

I recently had a meeting with Rebecca Taylor and she spoke of a situation that I found to be a bit surprising. Rebecca is the Business Development Officer for the Town of Amherst. As we talked over a cup of coffee, she indicated that employers in this community are experiencing a big problem. There are not enough people available to fill job openings. This left me with my mouth hanging open. I figured there might not be enough jobs for those wanting jobs...not the other way around.

As we conversed I began to see that this particular difficulty could have many layers. The unemployment rate in Canada as of August 2019 was 5.7 per cent. Taylor indicated the unemployment rate here is seven per cent, which is slightly above the Canadian statistic. Yet, there are businesses having to cut back on services, and some have had to cut back on the length of each business day. There are even some that may have to shut down completely.

I have been involved in various ways in the community. I have noted there are young people who are not employed...some possibly for mental health or physical health reasons. There are some who are dealing with drug related issues or other addictions. And to be sure, there are some who choose not to work. There are those who are over-qualified for certain positions and they are continuing to look for a position that better suits their abilities. There are also those who are under-qualified. These would be young people who did not take full advantage of earlier education opportunities – or possibly were not able to do so.

As Taylor has worked with the business leaders in the community there has been a potential solution coming to the forefront. It seems that the answer is Senior Citizens. As one of those people who have retired from the full-time work force, I fully understand that there would be few seniors ready and willing to take on full-time employment. However, there are positions available that are short-term; and there are many positions that will be split...from the usual eight-hour day to a three or four-hour time frame. There will be positions in many different areas...manufacturing, office work, and services.

The good thing about this is that a senior would not be taking a position away from a young person. There are plenty of jobs available. For the older person wishing to save up a few dollars for a special trip to a warm climate, or possibly to buy a few extra Christmas gifts for the grandchildren, a temporary job or part-time job might be the answer.

After thinking about the dilemma business people are facing, I realized this situation makes sense. We are an older population in Nova Scotia. Seniors are spending income on goods and services; and there simply are not enough young people in the work force to provide all of those goods and services.

Now...the other front. Hurricane Dorian left a mark. Some were without power for 24 hours and others had no power for days. There likely was no neighbour to help keep food from spoiling, since they were also without power. That means a lot of people had food go bad; and many of those who lost food do not have the financial resources to replace that food. Some who lost food are food bank clients. Over the next few weeks there will be a huge drain on the resources at the food bank.

This is the time for the more fortunate to donate food or monies to the food bank. The farmers who have more than enough vegetables in their gardens or fields might drop off some of that produce at the food bank. That is what defines community.

Shirley Hallee is a freelance writer living in Amherst. Her column appears weekly in the Amherst News.

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