By Tina Alvey
Local employers turned out in full force Thursday for a career fair sponsored by the Greenbrier Valley WorkForce West Virginia office and the state Division of Rehabilitation Services.
More than 30 businesses and government agencies set up shop in the concourse of the Greenbrier Valley Mall, but few job seekers followed suit, a situation some of the potential employers blamed on rainy weather.
Businesses represented at WorkForce’s fifth annual career fair included the county’s largest employer — The Greenbrier. Manning the resort’s booth, recruiting consultant Ryan Combs said The Greenbrier currently has between 100 and 150 openings across 70 to 100 different job descriptions.
“There is a team of recruiters currently going over all of the applications that have been received for the jobs,” Combs said, noting The Greenbrier is gearing up for its busiest season of the year.
Although aspiring employees are encouraged to fill out job applications online, a few had gone the extra mile and affixed their signatures to a sign-up sheet at The Greenbrier’s career fair booth. That extra effort could pay off.
“I will make a point to dig up the applications filled out by the people who signed up here today and try to match them with jobs,” Combs said, cautioning that he can’t guarantee success but believes the initiative shown by those few applicants should count for something.
Other private employers represented at the career fair included Greenbrier Valley Medical Center, Little Caesars, Lowe’s, S.J. Neathawk Lumber Company, Davis-Stuart Inc., Greenbrier Manor and Pro Careers Inc., all of which currently have job openings.
Joe Reynolds from the United Mine Workers of America Career Centers Inc. office in Beckley distributed information targeting displaced coal miners and their families. Assistance offered through a National Emergency Grant from the Department of Labor includes tuition and training needed by laid-off miners in their quest for jobs in other fields, like welding and commercial driving, Reynolds said.
With an office in the mall, H&R Block had a unique advantage, setting up a booth at the office’s concourse entrance.
“We are hiring now,” said Laurie Massey, a tax professional 2 at the Fairlea office.
She explained that potential applicants are encouraged to take an online test “to see where you are” before deciding to invest in the required training course, which is offered from September through November. In addition to the initial training, all of the tax professionals employed by H&R Block must earn 15 hours of continuing education credits each year, Massey said.
“We are educated in what we do,” she said. “I love my job. I love meeting people and making sure they get what they’re due from their tax returns.”
Massey said the Fairlea office’s owner owns a total of seven locations, thereby increasing the probability of finding “the right position for the right person.”
Government agencies with booths at the 5-hour career fair included both of the sponsoring state agencies and the federal prison system. Also represented were Anthony Correctional Center and Denmar Correctional Center.
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Greenbrier County’s unemployment rate as of the end of March stood at 8 percent, in part driven by the seasonal nature of jobs in the tourism industry.
West Virginia’s rate was 6.9 percent at the end of the first quarter, slightly higher than the national rate of 6.7 percent.
For more information about the job assistance programs offered by WorkForce West Virginia — such as career services, training and education, skills assessment, job development, high-speed public computer centers and services for young people and veterans — go to www.workforcewv.org online or visit a local WorkForce center.
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