Career Fair draws hundreds

First Posted: 4/15/2009

DOBSON Contrary to popular belief, jobs are available in Surry County, judging by a career fair Wednesday at Surry Community College which also showed there are plenty of folks looking for them.
Representatives of about 30 entities, ranging from medical and financial institutions to police and military organizations, set up shop temporarily in the SCC gymnasium to recruit prospective employees who werent too hard to find.
Weve had very good attendance, said the colleges Debbie Benge, the coordinator of the annual event which began at 9 a.m. and lasted until early afternoon. For about the first hour, they were lined up out the door.
By noon, about 250 people, many whove been displaced from textile and other industries, had filed through the gym doors seeking new careers among various booths lined up around the gym.
Weve had 18-year-olds to 60-year-olds in here looking for work, said Jayme Shatley of Carolina Select Home Care Inc. of Elkin, one of the companies represented at the jobs fair.
Sheila Clark, an unemployed Mount Airy resident, was among those journeying to Dobson to explore available opportunities. Along with gaining a couple of good leads on possible positions, Clark indicated she also received something maybe just as important to an out-of-work person: hope.
Everybody here has been very nice and helpful, said Clark, who was laid off from an ATV/motorcycle business in Pinnacle about six months ago. She said that along with potential employment opportunities, she came away from Wednesdays career fair with a sense of direction she believes will be helpful, toward either getting another job or furthering her education.
Across the room, Jennifer Emerson of East Bend chatted with Officer Ray Arnder of the Mount Airy Police Department, who was there to outline employment opportunities in law enforcement.
My brother is a cop, the young woman said in explaining her interest in police work, which also includes a desire to work in the K-9, or police dog, field due to a love of animals.
Emerson said one reason she is considering a law enforcement career is the job stability she believes that line of work affords. Youre always going to need police officers, she reasoned.
The Durham Police Department also was represented at Wednesdays fair, along with other men in uniform from the Army, Navy and Marines.
Several health and care-giver institutions had representatives there as well, including Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital in Elkin, along with staffing agencies such as Workforce Carolina and several non-profit organizations.
A sampling of others represented included Surry Telephone Membership Corp., Western-Southern Financial Group, Wells Fargo Finance, Wayne Farms, Premier Enterprises, Maurices, Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation, Neighbors Food Stores/WIFM radio and Mary Kay Cosmetics.
Benge, the fairs coordinator who works in the SCC Career Services Center, said many of the employers represented indicated that they have jobs available now or would in the near future. The employer attendance is not as great (compared to last years fair), she said. We contacted a large number of employers.
However, Benge was grateful for those there.
When Shatley, the official from Carolina Select Home Care, was asked if jobs were available with her business, she replied, You better believe it! We need certified nursing assistants. A person can receive training for that position and be employed within six months, Shatley said.
The Carolina Select Home Care representative added that she had encountered many qualified individuals Wednesday, including many laid off from Mount Airy industries. Some lack a sense of where to go from there, according to several of the employers.
Theyve been in the factories for 15 years and dont know what to do, Shatley said. They just dont know where to get started. People are desperate right now.
Its so sad, reported another company representative of her contacts at the fair with persons laid off from local industries.
However, Benge agreed that if nothing else, career fairs provide the unemployed with a kind of purpose, offering them a means of doing something in an effort to improve their situations. That can provide a psychological boost in itself, she said.
I do look at this as a positive event, the coordinator added, saying it does show jobs are available to those who are prepared.
Some people are going to have to make adjustments and transitions, especially those whove been in manufacturing in the past, Benge said.
But there are opportunities.
Contact Tom Joyce at [email protected] or at 719-1924.

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