Tuesday, June 25, 2024

OC Transpo tries to boost workforce with weekend job fair | CBC News

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The Greenboro park-and-ride in Ottawa’s south end was full of hopeful job applicants Saturday, all vying for an opportunity to work for the city’s transit provider as it deals with ongoing workforce shortfalls.

OC Transpo held its second ever job fair yesterday, with the hope of hiring hundreds of employees. The service has been dealing with a shortage of staff — especially drivers — for a long time, and that’s led to trips being cancelled.

In a presentation to transit commission in March, staff shared slides that outlined some of the hiring plans for 2024.

The details included plans to recruit 450 bus operators, 36 Para Transpo operators and 48 trainees for the city’s rail network. There was also a plan to bring in 36 new maintenance trainees. 

“There’s constantly turnover and constantly a need to recruit new people,” said Coun. Glen Gower, chair of Ottawa’s transit commission, at Saturday’s event.

“We know in Ottawa we’ve had an issue with the reliability of buses, and there’s a couple of pillars that we need to be focused on to make sure that we get back to a high reliability level. One of those is … making sure we have a solid team of bus drivers so we always have operators available.”

Transit commission chair Glen Gower says OC Transpo has been meeting its recruitment targets for the past year, but there’s been movement in the agency and — like many sectors — issues with retaining workers long-term. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

The other pillar, Gower said, is ensuring OC Transpo has enough maintenance so that transit vehicles are ready to go. 

Gower said OC Transpo has been meeting its recruitment targets for the past year, but there’s a lot of movement in the agency and — like many industries — there have been issues with retaining workers.

“We’ve seen some data recently at transit commission that [showed] some of the morale issues or some of the recruitment challenges. You know, we have a little more than we like to see,” he said.

“So we we need to tighten up on that.”

OC Transpo has also been looking at ways to better understand operators’ concerns and improve those retention rates, Gower added. 

A split picture of a man and a woman.
Balgit Singh, left, and Rachel Rizzo, right, were among the would-be OC Transpo employees who showed up for Saturday’s job fair. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

‘Fun and exciting’

Those who came to the park-and-ride with resumés in hand Saturday were enthusiastic about getting work with the organization. 

“It seems like a really good community environment, and that’s what I’m looking for in a job — something fun and exciting,” said Rachel Rizzo, who was looking for work in the security side of things.

Rizzo said her fiancé works as an operator and his stories helped convince her it was a good opportunity.

“There’s a really big appreciation in Ottawa for our bus drivers and stuff, so it’s nice to hear that,” she said.

As for Balgit Singh, who was visiting the booths for mechanics and operators, he was excited about the long-term potential of a position with OC Transpo.

“[There’s] job security … good perks, benefits,” he said. “And then a lot of people are happy working here.”

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