Job fair aims to help unemployed

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Star Photo/Brandon Hicks Murlyn Khristos talks with Rachel Porter about the benefits of a career with Mountain States Health Alliance.

Star Photo/Brandon Hicks
Murlyn Khristos talks with Rachel Porter about the benefits of a career with Mountain States Health Alliance.

Local residents got the opportunity to meet with area employers during a special job fair held Tuesday afternoon.

The job fair was part of a special two-part event hosted by the Elizabethton Tennessee College of Applied Technology in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Jobs4TN program and with Carter County Tomorrow.

Earlier that morning, a career fair was held for local high school seniors, but in the afternoon, the focus turned to those who have already graduated from high school but who are unemployed or underemployed.

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Those attending had the opportunity to network with a wide variety of employers and post-secondary education providers.

On the education front, representatives of the Elizabethton TCAT, Northeast State Community College, Milligan College, King College, the state’s Adult Education Program and National College were on hand to provide information on their programs, enrollment and financial aid.

A large number of regional employers were also on hand, passing out and accepting applications and discussing employment and career opportunities with the attendees.

“There has been a lot of interest,” said Shay Hicks, Human Resources Lead for the buildings group at NCI Building Systems, located in Elizabethton. Many of the attendees Hicks spoke with also voiced an interest in attending classes at TCAT to improve their skills for the job market, she said.

“It is encouraging that the workforce is seeking those skills that are needed,” Hicks said, adding her company is currently seeking to hire skilled positions such as welders, machine operators and maintenance mechanics.

In addition to NCI Building Systems, representatives from Snap-on Tools, Century Link, International Paper, Regions Bank, Lowe’s Home Improvements, H&R Block, Donaldson Filtration and Staff Pro were also on hand as well as many other employers.

Staff Pro is a staffing service that helps provide employees to companies, said Lisa Morgan, human resources manager.

“About half of what we do is administrative and clerical and the other half is industrial,” Morgan said.

In years past, many staffing agencies provided employees on a temporary basis to companies to fill in vacancies for a short time, but that has changed Morgan said.

“More often than not, our opportunities are long term,” she said. “A lot of what we do is temp-to-hire.”

At any given time there are a variety of opportunities available at Staff Pro that provide job seekers the opportunity to try out a field or to earn some needed experience, Morgan said.

There were also several representatives of healthcare companies at the job fair, including Mountain States Health Alliance, Pine Ridge Care and Rehab, Aid & Assist At Home and Evergreen Life Services.

“We have over 400 positions posted in Tennessee and Virginia,” said Sharon Sheppard, human resources manager at MSHA. Those job postings include everything from janitorial staff up through nursing staff, she said.

Another agency looking for employees in the world of healthcare is Evergreen Life Services, which provides support services to adults with developmental or intellectual disabilities and also provides support services to elderly persons.

During the job fair, several people stopped by the Evergreen booth to talk, said Dawn Campbell, who serves as Human Resources and Staff Training Coordinator.

“I have given out a lot of applications. It has been a very good day,” Campbell said. “Hopefully we will get some potential employees.”

One group at the job fair fell into both the education and the employer categories – the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 43 apprenticeship program.

“This is a 5-year apprenticeship program,” said Larry Morrison, training director for the program.

In addition to attending class, participants also get the opportunity to get hands-on knowledge working under the direction of a professional. “It is an earn-as-you-learn kind of program,” Morrison said.

This year marked the first time for both the career and job fairs, and Carter County Tomorrow President Tom Anderson said both events were a huge success.

“We plan on doing this every year,” Anderson said. “We are going to make it even bigger and better next year.”

TCAT opened up one of its computer rooms on Tuesday afternoon so those attending the job fair could fill out applications online after speaking to some of the employers, Anderson said. Also, several people who attended the fair signed up for classes and training at TCAT while they were on site.

“This has been very successful,” Anderson said.