Back in 2006, Peter Jones could throw together a job fair and easily attract 100 or more local employers to sit in those white rectangular booths.
A year, maybe two, later, he was dealing with a numbers problem.
“Not as many jobs but more people,” he said. “We probably drew about 500 people back then. Now, we have about 30 employers and probably see about 700 jobseekers now. There are less jobs, and those jobs are harder to find.”
In recent years, his numbers problem has begun to iron itself out, but it’s been slow.
More than 350 people looking for jobs filtered into Proctors on Wednesday, just three hours into the Capital Job Development Group’s semiannual job fair. The event would go on for another three hours. Jones heads the nonprofit group, whose mission is to promote workforce development through job search training, career counseling, employer training and, of course, job fairs.
The organization started as the Saratoga Job Fair, when it was held solely in the Saratoga Springs City Center each spring and fall. The success of its early job fairs led the group to incorporation and then expansion into the rest of the Capital Region.
In the last six months, Capital Job Development Group increased its employer count from 20 to 31. The job offerings Wednesday ran the gamut, from entry level jobs to jobs requiring college degrees. There were jobs at local drugstores and federal jobs with the U.S. Postal Service. There were jobs in health care, welding, banking, retail and nonprofits.
“We hired about three CNAs from the last job fair,” said Lorraine Hobart, human resources director at Kingsway Community, a privately owned senior living community in Schenectady.
A certified nursing assistant is what Alyssa Nickole hopes to become after she finishes career readiness training through the Schenectady Community Action Program. The 32-year-old has worked in health care for more than a decade without any training or schooling and decided it was time to take courses so she could advance in the field.
“I’ll be talking to different nursing facilities today,” she said, seated across from a resume-critiquing booth with her own resume on her lap. “I haven’t spoken to anyone yet, but I hope to work at Maplewood Manor. My aunt works there, and I’ve heard a lot of good things about it — good ratings, the residents are treated good, the employees are treated good.”
Local health care organizations were popular at Wednesday’s job fair, which was frequented by many of the students who go through SCAP’s career readiness training. The health care industry is expected to grow by leaps and bounds with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Ellis Medicine had more than 100 positions up for grabs Wednesday across various departments, from information technology to nursing.
Other participating employers included Branford Hall Career Institute, Woodmen of the World, Catholic Charities, Schenectady County Community College, The Sage Colleges, Fortitech, Visiting Nurse Association of Albany, St. Mary’s Health Care, First Investors Corp., Northeast Parent and Child Society, MVP Health Care, Rite Aid and Time Warner Cable.
Hobart, from Kingsway Community, said they were hoping to fill about 15 positions ranging from CNAs and licensed practical nurses to nurses with a background in medical coding.
“Most of the time, we make sure to attend job fairs specifically within the county because we want to be able to recruit people who are from this area,” she said. “Our facility is a private facility, so a lot of our residents are local, as well.”