By Jonathan Pleasant
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development held one of their first official career fairs in Johnson County recently, hosted in the cafeteria of the Roan Creek Elementary School. Almost a dozen different companies and employers were on hand with career information and applications to serve the very diverse crowd of interested job seekers.
Some of those in attendance were looking for their first job while others were simply seeking a change from their current line of work. At all types of ages and backgrounds, the fair was a good cross section of Johnson Countys workforce, and also gave a rare insight to how many employers are actually hiring even in these troubled economic times.
Most companies like Parkdale and Maymead were local, but there were several including Aid & Assist At Home and R.E. West Transportation who were offering career opportunities farther away from home. Conducted all over the state, the Department of Labor tries to ensure that their career fairs give a broad variety of opportunities that fit the specific community. According to the departments Business Service Specialist Ann Chapman, this particular event was a direct result of the efforts of Representative Timothy Hill, who specifically saw a need in this part of the district.
Representative Hill had asked the department to conduct a job fair in this area for the people of Johnson County, Chapman said. We have done similar ones in other areas. The last one was in Johnson City last September, but this is the first in Johnson County. I had 11 employers confirm which is pretty good considering the weather earlier. We had a couple call and ask if it was cancelled because of the flooding. We keep track of the numbers coming in just for statistical purposes and were also here providing information about our state jobs clearing house, which is www.jobs4tn.gov. There are over 90,000 jobs posted on that website alone.
Representative Hill actually made an appearance at the fair, personally thanking the various employers for their presence. Set up in booths around the perimeter of the room, applicants were able to speak with each companys representative in turn, and many could be seen actively filling out applications and receiving career advice at the various tables that had been set out. For his part, Hill seemed equally amazed with the variety of people attending the fair.
So far its gone very well, Hill said. One of the things Im impressed with is that its young people, its some not-so-young people, it seems to have all sorts of walks of life involved, which is exactly why I was wanting to do this. We talk about the need for jobs in the community. The people of Johnson County want to get back to work if they have been away from work. They want to work, theyre hard workers, and this is just an opportunity for employers to meet those folks who are in the job market.
Booths included employers like Northeast Correctional Complex, Defender Janitorial Services, N&N Ball and Roller, Mountain City Care & Rehabilitation Center, Parkdale, and Maymead, as well as career education opportunity organizations such as the Alliance for Business & Training (AB&T) and Tennessee Career Centers. Some of those at the fair were looking for specific qualifications, such as CDL Drivers at Maymead, while others had very few requirements and conduct their own training after hiring. Most employers also encouraged prospective employees to seek them out online where digital applications are also available.
The event appeared to be largely successful, at the very least providing a gauge for what types of work are available in the area currently. Representative Hill seemed very pleased with the outcome, noting that even though Johnson County is often overlooked by many of the states agencies there is still a viable need for service.
Johnson County should be entitled to each and every state service that is provided by the department as would be provided anywhere else, Hill said. The folks in the Department of Labor have been very kind. They helped pull this together, brought the employers together, and they have just done an excellent job of putting each of the pieces and parts in place. We wanted to get it organized, and hopefully as much as we can, get folks to work.
By Jonathan Pleasant