March 04, 2016

Thousands turn out for employment fair in Fairmont | Clarksburg Exponent Telegram

FAIRMONT — Thousands of people either looking for employment or a career change gathered in Fairmont on Friday for a job and resource fair.

The job fair was the first of eight such events that U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin is planning across the state.

The event at the I-79 Technology Park began at 11 a.m., and people were lining up outside the Robert H. Mollohan Research Building at 9 a.m., said Manchin, D-W.Va.

“If this is any indication of what’s going on around the state and what’s going to go on around the state, it’s a tremendous success,” Manchin said.

“We’re just trying to connect the dots,” the senator added. “There are a lot of West Virginians that are tremendous workers, and sometimes they don’t know where to go.”

Over 100 employers were on hand to go over the job openings they have and to take resumés, Manchin said.

Representatives from West Virginia University, Marshall University, Fairmont State University and Pierpont Community & Technical College were also present to assist those wanting to enhance their education or jobs skills.

“There are a lot of West Virginians who want to have a better life and a better job, and they need to know what it takes to do that,” Manchin said.

“If you don’t have the skill sets, we’re going to make sure you know how to get the skills sets,” he said. “This is a one-stop shop.”

Many of those attending the job fair recently lost their job in the oil and natural gas industry.

Christine Wang of Morgantown was one of them.

“I’m just looking to see if there’s anything that fits and praying that the oil and gas industry comes back,” Wang said.

Wang, who is unemployed for the first time in her life, said she came across some job possibilities at the event.

“It’s a wonderful job fair,” she said. “I’m hearing everyone saying it’s giving them some hope.”

Nichole Rector of Lost Creek was a lease analyst in the oil and gas industry until a week ago.

“I came from a very good company that treated us like family, and I’m looking for much the same experience,” Rector said.

Vania De Anda and her mother, Silvia De Anda, came from Weston to explore possible job opportunities.

Vania De Anda lost her job doing title work in October.

“It’s definitely a different market,” she said. “Everybody is looking for a job.”

Both mother and daughter said they were looking for jobs in which they could use their bilingual skills.

Employers and other vendors reported seeing a lot of job seekers, including many recently laid off from the oil and gas industry.

Mary Spellman, manager of WorkForce West Virginia’s Fairmont office, said those looking for jobs had diverse backgrounds.

But there was no mistaking the displaced oil and gas workers in the mix, Spellman said.

“There are so many skilled workers affected by oil and gas (layoffs),” Spellman said. “They are struggling, and we’re hoping to assist them as much as we can.”

Tara Stevens, with Monongalia General Hospital, said she met with a lot of people seeking employment.

The Morgantown hospital has openings in nursing, billing, nutrition services and housekeeping, Stevens said.

“I have had several people I think might be a good fit for Mon General,” Stevens said.

Denise Hedrick, with telemarketer InfoCision, said she, too, was busy throughout the day.

“I’ve got a folder full of resumés and given out a lot of contact information cards,” Hedrick said.

Over 50 people had stopped by the booths for the Salem and Pruntytown correctional centers, representatives of the facilities said.

“The majority are looking for correctional officer positions due to being laid off from the mines or oil and gas,” said Cindy McClain, with Salem Correctional Center.

“We’ve made appointments for them to come in and take their civil service test,” said Traci Facciani, with Pruntytown Correctional Center.

Not everyone at the job fair was looking for employment.

Sherry Croston, with the Human Resource Development Foundation, was meeting with employers to inform them about a National Dislocated Worker Grant the organization has received.

The grant funds could be used to reimburse employers the cost of training dislocated workers, Croston said.

Iris Robertson, with Salem International University, said she was asking employers to consider providing internships to students from the school.

Other sponsors of the job fair were the West Virginia High Technology Foundation; WorkForce West Virginia; the Harrison County, Marion County and Morgantown Area chambers of commerce; Pierpont Community & Technical College; Fairmont State University; and West Virginia University.

Kathy Wagner, president of the Harrison County Chamber, said it appeared that a lot of people were making connections.

“Hopefully, a lot of jobs result from today,” Wagner said.

Source: By Jim Davis