Many Canadian businesses are faced with employee deficits and finding workers to fill job vacancies has become a challenge.

Potential candidates have more opportunities to choose whom they work for and the incentives that are offered.

Nearly twenty companies, from banking and health care to construction and hospitality, were in attendance at the Jobs Canada Fair hosted at the Shaw Centre in downtown Ottawa on Tuesday, as hundreds of job seekers searched through the plethora of available openings.

“The candidates that I have spoken with today seem to be highly qualified and eager to work,” says Samantha Graziano, H.R. services team lead with Canadian Institute for Health Information. “We have upwards of 20 positions that I’m currently recruiting. We’re looking for data analysts we’re always looking for I.T. positions administrative rolls as well and it is absolutely a candidates market right now. It’s a little bit tough on us to make sure that we are an employers of choice and able to compete with the other offers that candidates are receiving.”

Graziano says CIHI, a not-for-profit agency, has a competitive edge with flexible health benefits, paid leave and vacation, professional development and career advancement opportunities and a great work-life balance.

“We are very fortunate to be able to offer a defined benefit pension plan which is always a big sell for people,” she says. “We’re really hoping that today we are able to fill some of these jobs.”

But according to statistics Canada, the unemployment-to-job-vacancy ratio is at an historic low amid a record tight labour market and recruiting skilled employees us expected to be an obstacle for nearly two-fifths of all businesses, led by construction, manufacturing and accommodation and food services.

Another factor is pay. Job seekers want higher wages and are waiting for opportunities with lucrative incentives such as signing bonuses and at-work perks.

“It’s more of competition going on; some are paying 20 dollars per hour and some are paying more than that,” says Aamir Parack, marketing specialist with Jobs Canada Fair, adding 1,000 people registered to attend the job fair. “It’s overwhelming and obviously incentives do work in this type of atmosphere.”

Amy Grootjes, with Eagle Builders, has plenty of openings for those wanting a career in construction and the pre-fabricated concrete manufacture will also cover some costs.

“We are looking for site supervisors, labourers, grouting and patching crew, insulation crews; we have a junior pre-draft position in our office, lots of positions,” says Grootjes. “There is a clothing program where we provide your work apparel and we have a fuel benefit card where your fuel is forty cents per litre less at the pump … It’s a family-based, family-owned company. I would say that, you know, you put your effort in and show what you can do and you’re rewarded for that.”

But this business came from out of town, an obvious indicator of Canada’s short supply or staff.

“We are looking for talent relocating to Alberta, taking advantage of a lower cost of living and having the mountains in your backyard and job opportunities,” she says. “Definitely there are many opportunities and we are headed from here to Toronto tomorrow and the next day for job fairs as well.”

This week, there are more than 30 job fairs happening across the Ottawa area, many which will continue to throughout the fall.