“It just doesn’t seem like there are enough applicants”: Niagara County hosts career fair
There was a record 9.3 million job offers in the United States in April, the highest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking data in 2001. The Niagara County Department of Employment and Training held a job fair on Wednesday in hope to help local employers fill some of these openings.
Debbie Buckley and her 28-year-old son James Buckley were at the Oppenheim Park Career Fair in Niagara Falls, going table to table, giving presentations and collecting business cards.
“I saw the job fair posting,” Debbie Buckley said. “And I said, ‘Maybe this might interest you. “
“So I thought I would stop to check it out,” added James Buckley.
He worked at Pizza Hut until the chain closed all stores in western New York last summer. Now that the COVID-19 positivity rate in New York City is below 1%, he hopes to get a part-time job while resuming his studies.
“So I’m looking again, now that it’s almost safe, basically,” he said.
Local employers are hoping there will be more people like James Buckley looking for work this summer, as the region moves away from the worst of the pandemic.
Unemployment in the Buffalo-Niagara region is currently around 6%, while the New York State Department of Labor Reports at Least 12,000 Jobs in Western New York, including more than 1,000 openings in areas such as healthcare and manufacturing alone.
“It just doesn’t seem like there are enough applicants to fill the open positions right now,” said Donald Jablonski, director of employment and training for Niagara County, whose department has organized four. job fairs since the start of the pandemic. “(Employers) are expressing extreme difficulty right now. Despite unique recruiting efforts, up to and including enrollment bonuses and flexible hours and trying to introduce some kind of childcare, they just can’t seem to find the quality candidates that are needed. .
While some blamed the $ 300 a week in federal unemployment benefits, Jablonski said it’s not just the increase in benefits that keeps workers at home. Some had legitimate concerns about COVID, while distance learning and child care shortages have forced many working mothers out of the workforce.
“Therefore the working women are particularly affected,” he said.
Jablonski was encouraged by the fact that midway through Wednesday’s job fair, more than 100 job seekers had already attended.
This was good news for the 40 employers who have moved in, like New View Alliance, which runs everything from residential treatment centers to children’s group homes.
Tim Chavers, a recruiter for the New View Alliance, said it is still difficult to fill social service jobs, but he has seen a 75% drop in the number of new applicants since the start of the pandemic, and that There are 30 positions open at his Lockport and Williamsville locations alone.
“Human services are notorious for not having the highest paying job, unfortunately. It’s a sad truth, but a truth nonetheless, ”he said, adding that New View Alliance recently renegotiated their hourly rates to be higher. “But I think we’re pretty competitive on the pitch.”
He welcomed the opportunity to meet candidates in person, especially for entry level youth support positions.
“[For those positions], it’s less about references than about their personality and their ability to connect with people, ”he said. “And so having a situation like this, where you can chat with people, gives them the opportunity to really shine where they might not otherwise, like on a CV or an application.”
It has also given employers a chance to dispel what they say are misconceptions about their industry.
Officer Ryan Phelps, of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, said the department could hire up to 1,000 correctional officers across the state this year, as well as a few hundreds of parole officers, but acknowledged that some job seekers might have a view of corrections and law enforcement in general.
“We can explain to them that the job maybe not what you see on TV or read in the news and things like that,” he said.
He explained to candidates that the job comes with a living wage, benefits and a great pension plan.
“We have 25 years of retirement. There is no minimum age for retirement. So you could start at 21, work 25, be eligible for retirement potentially at 46, ”he said. “So that’s cool. Start early, get out early.
For the Buckleys, James Buckley was interested in vacancies for van drivers and a dental lab production company. His dream job is to work in the film industry and is drawn to the two film studios offered in Buffalo.
“The movie studio, when it opens you have to get all the training you need to do it,” Debbie Buckley said. “So he’s going to go back to school at the same time looking for a part-time job.”
The Niagara County Department of Employment and Training is offering businesses up to $ 5,000 to help offset the wages of new workers, as well as scholarships of up to $ 4,000 for students.