Hundreds turn out for job fair


First Posted: 11/5/2009

When the doors opened at the Workforce Development Center Thursday morning for the Holiday Inn Express Job Fair, people were lined up waiting at the door. By the end of the day, 374 people had come to apply for 20 to 25 jobs.
Larry Calloway, veterans services consultant with the North Carolina Employment Security Commission (ESC), said he was pleased with the turn-out for the day.
This just goes to show you that people are willing to work here in Surry County, Calloway said. Weve had a constant stream of applicants all day.
Calloway and Karen McBennett, Goodwill Industries Employment specialist, also with the North Carolina ESC, helped the new Holiday Inn Express General Manager Trudy Willard with the job fair.
Available positions offered include front desk, housekeeping, laundry, breakfast host or hostess and maintenance. The four-story hotel will have 74 rooms and will open on Dec. 22, but training for those who are hired will begin after positions are filled following the job fair.
I was surprised this morning when I came in there were already people lined up, Willard said. This has been wonderful.
Carmen Eldridge, director of the Surry Community College Workforce Development Center was on hand for the event to let applicants know about education opportunities. She stressed the importance of job seekers to have a State of North Carolina Career Readiness Certificate. The certification program is an economic development tool that includes a data base that is constantly updated and showcases North Carolinas skilled workforce.
It increases the applicants chances for employment and promotion and focuses on employment-related competencies needed in any career and is a credential recognized by employers, Eldridge said. This is a free service and once applicants have this they can tell employers that they have taken the test and they are ready to work.
Friends Edith Dobson and Ashley Mabe came in to apply for work together. They have both worked in the hospitality industry and are having trouble finding employment.
There are no jobs anywhere, Dobson said.
Sheila Cavonaugh and her husband William both came in to apply for jobs at the new Holiday Inn. The couple moved to Mount Airy from Cape Hatteras in 2003. She has worked in the hotel industry, but has been downsized into a part-time desk clerk job.
I was working as an assistant manager. I want to get back into management, Cavonaugh said.
She said her husband has tried different odd jobs but is now unemployed.
Husband and wife Terry and Penny Pettry just moved to Mount Airy from Maryland. He was employed as an assistant manager at Wal-Mart where he lived. The two came here to look for work and to be closer to family.
Amy Goetzke sat at a table alone filling out her application. She is also from Maryland and has come to Mount Airy to live closer to family.
I need a job and I have the qualifications needed, Goetzke said.
Amber Lawson and her friend Brittany King came in together to apply during the job fair. Lawson said she has a degree as a Certified Nursing Assistant, but cannot find work in that field. She said she is tried of sitting home every day and wants to work.
Both Lawson and King stopped to talk with Erica Smith, director for the Education Opportunity Center through Surry Community College.
We offer no-cost educational opportunities. We can help with financial aide if needed. If they are not working, they might as well come to school. It wont cost them anything, Smith said.
She said the program paid for by a federal grant.
Calloway said the ESC is willing to help employers with hiring and job fairs like the one held Thursday.
The SCC Workforce Development Center is located at 1220 State Street in the Surry County Human Services building. The phone number is 356-5300.
To get more information about the Education Opportunity Center go to www.surreoc.org or call 386-3664.
Contact Mondee Tilley at [email protected] or at 719-1930.

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