Job Fair Turnout Encouraging
Getting Back to Work:
If response to a local job fair can be viewed as a barometer for employment trends in this area, things are definitely looking up!
The “From Pandemic to Prosperity Employment Fair 2021,” held June 23 at Southeastern Technical College, drew about 200 prospective employees with backgrounds ranging from skilled labor to administrative roles. The event was sponsored by STC, the Greater Vidalia Chamber of Commerce, and the Toombs County Development Authority.
Over 65 area businesses and agencies were onsite to promote their companies, take applications and conduct interviews. Some even hired on the spot, said Chamber Director of Community Development Ann Owens. “We were more than thrilled,” Owens said of the turnout by both local businesses looking to hire and members of the public seeking employment. “After the fair, we spoke with businesses that participated, and every one of them had scheduled interviews or conducted interviews.” She said the participants were a mixture of STC students and the public at large, with a wide spectrum of ages and talents represented. The fair was the outgrowth of a workforce strategy project being undertaken by the Development Authority in partnership with the University of Georgia Carl Vinson Institute of Government (CVIOG). Owens said the study is intended to identify workforce challenges in this area. The Toombs County Workforce Strategy project will create a roadmap for workforce development efforts. Specifically, the process will identify gaps, develop priorities, create strategies for meeting the talent needs of existing industry and prospective employers, set workforce development goals, and tell the Toombs talent story, according to a press release from the Development Authority.
Over the span of three months, representatives of the CVIOG conducted industry visits, interviews with small business owners, members of the agriculture community, and young professionals. Sessions were conducted at both the Southeastern Early College and Career Academy (SECCA) and STC with students from diverse pathways and age groups in order to understand their needs and desires for a successful career in Toombs County. Workshops were conducted with the Workforce Strategy Steering Committee and, after identifying areas of short and longterm concern to our area, the Committee formed a plan of action to span the next several years. The first action item was the Employment Fair held June 23. Partners in the study included Chicken of the Sea, Georgia Power, Memorial Health/Meadows Hospital, Southern Nuclear, Hatch Nuclear Plant, and Trane, as well as the volunteer efforts of the Steering Committee. Results of the study will be available in August and will be shared with the community. The local Employment Fair came just ahead of Georgia’s halt of federal unemployment subsidies on June 26. As of that date, Georgia no longer participates in the following federal programs: Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, and Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation; however, the Georgia Department of Labor will continue offering regular state unemployment insurance benefits to eligible Georgians. The maximum weekly benefit in the state is $365. Governor Brian Kemp and Georgia Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler announced the June 26 cutoff following widespread complaints about the lack of an available workforce. Many believed the workforce shortage was a direct result of continuing federal unemployment insurance programs Congress enacted after COVID-19 struck the nation in March of 2020. According to the Labor Department, some 223,000 claimants will be impacted by the cutoff.
“After 66 weeks of benefits during the pandemic and the release of $22.5 billion, we look forward to refocusing our organization on reemployment and helping claimants find a career path that will provide the stability and support necessary to provide for their families,” Commissioner Butler said in a Capitol Beat News Service article.
In early June, more than 221,000 jobs were listed on Employment Georgia, the Labor Department’s website. Claimants receive access to job listings, support to upload up to five searchable resumes, job search assistance, career counseling, skills testing, job fair information and job training services. Recently, Governor Kemp applauded Georgia’s unemployment rate dropping for the 13th straight month from 4.3% in April to 4.1% for the month of May. The national unemployment average is 5.8%.
“Protecting both lives and livelihoods throughout a global pandemic continues to pay off for hard working Georgians,” Kemp said. “Despite false claims from the left and many in the media, The Peach State was the first state to safely reopen our economy and get more Georgians back to work and back to normal. Georgia continues to lead the nation in economic recovery as our unemployment rate drops for the 13th straight month.”
The number of jobs in May increased by 7,000, reaching a total of 4,481,100. This number is up 295,800 compared to the same time last year. Since April 2020, 424,100 (70%) of the 609,500 jobs lost in March 2020 and April 2020 have been gained back. Since March 2020, the state has supported the creation of nearly 37,000 jobs—totaling 394 projects and $12 billion in investment, according to a new release from the Governor’s office.