CHIEF LOGAN STATE PARK — Nearly 400 people came looking for jobs Tuesday at a Workforce West Virginia job fair at the Chief Logan Convention Center.
At 1 p.m., just three hours after the job fair had started, there had been at least 370 people come in looking for jobs, according to the list of names at the door. The job fair lasted until after 2 p.m. and many people were still coming through the doors near closing time.
Jake Hunt, executive director of the Region 2 Workforce Investment Board, said job fairs are ways for employers to find workers and people looking for work to find jobs.
“It lets people in the community know that there are jobs available,” Hunt said. “It’s the reassurance that there are jobs out there. It also lets employers know that people are seeking jobs. There are a lot of people who are looking for work.”
More than just employers set up at the job fair. Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College also set up to tell people about their job training services and classes, Hunt said.
“It’s a great opportunity because there’s the possibility if folks have been laid off they can look into a different career,” Hunt said. “The coal industry is going through a rough time right now so people are having to decide if there’s another way or something else they are able to do.”
Hunt said he hopes the job fair lets people know that there are jobs available.
“People are having folks fill out applications, some people are doing interviews online and the military is very interested in the young folks that were here from the vocational schools,” Hunt said. “A lot of times, folks aren’t real sure what goes on at a job fair. It’s really employer-driven. They may tell you to go apply online or take the application here. We have all the various stages.”
Chris Adkins with Wright Underground Concrete, LLC, said the job fair is important to his company so they can find good workers for their different concrete divisions, including one just opened on 22 Mine Road at Holden.
“We just opened up a new manufacturing division on top of 22 Mine Road where we bring in and bag rock dust for the area mines and we have a concrete division that supplies ready-mix to local residents and construction work. We also have a drilling division which does core drilling and an underground division that builds seals and does construction and slope work for underground mines,” Adkins said. “We’re participating in the job fair to look for applicants for our divisions.”
Adkins said job fairs are big right now because so many people are looking for work.
“One guy told me he had been working for 28 years and had never been laid off and this is the first time he’s faced unemployment,” Adkins said. “He didn’t even know how to fill out an application because he’s never had to do one in his life. It’s sad seeing all the people in this area that are affected by the turndown in the economy. I think that a small percentage of people will get a job from the job fair.”
A big factor in the increased attendance at the job fair is the low demand for coal, Adkins, a former Massey Energy executive, said.
“It appears it’s going to get even tougher in this area with even more local mines facing the turndown in the market,” Adkins said. “It appears we’re going to have a rough year and a half in this local area. I don’t see the market picking back up in mining for at least a year.”