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Career fair draws diverse crowd of job seekers, businesses

Job seekers turned out in droves for the third annual PA CareerLink® Pittsburgh/Allegheny County’s third annual Job Awareness Day career fair at the Doubletree Hotel in Green Tree.

Dressed to impress and with resumes in hand, more than 450 career-ready job seekers connected with more than 50 representatives of businesses in some of the region’s most in-demand sectors during the job fair, held July 28. The event exceeded the expectations of everyone — including organizers.

 “Our collective efforts attracted the participation of 50 plus employers and more than 450 job seekers,” said Ida Ford, Business Services Manager for PA CareerLink® Pittsburgh/Allegheny County, a proud partner of the American Job Center network.

“We fulfilled our goal in serving many qualified applicants seeking gainful employment and opportunities in the workplace,” said Ida Ford, business services manager for PA CareerLink® Pittsburgh/Allegheny County, a proud partner of the American Job Center network.  

PA CareerLink® is a one-stop shop that prides itself on connecting employers and job seekers in the most efficient manner possible. With sites Downtown, in Forest Hills and in Carnegie Libraries in McKeesport, Downtown, North Side and, Braddock, CareerLink maintains a cadre of highly trained staff offering job seekers and businesses a cache of materials, workshops, consultation services, recruitment events and online access to a comprehensive database of job opportunities and employment information.

“It’s obvious that when we work together we can make a difference in our communities and to the economic vitality in southwestern Pennsylvania,” Ford said.

Representatives of PurePenn, the newly licensed medical marijuana grower in McKeesport, attended with the hopes of reaching a pool of talent to fill 30 to 60 positions expected in the next year.

“We’re going to be in McKeesport which is a great thing for the community because it’s going to provide them with a lot of economic development, said PurePenn’s Marsha Turner. “Our salaries are very competitive. Our minimum rate is going to be $14.50 per hour plus comprehensive benefits, so I think that’s an attraction.”

Turner’s colleague, Gina Rosso, eagerly greeted jobseekers at the event. “We definitely have a diverse group and everyone, especially in McKeesport and around the Mon Valley, is excited about these opportunities and this new industry,” she said.

Turner explained they are looking for people who possess core values of accountability, integrity and collaboration.  They believe they will find a pool of talent in CareerLink’s pipeline.

“We’re thrilled with the services at CareerLink,” Turner said. “They’ve been a great partner. We told them what we needed, and they have exceeded our expectations.”

Kobie Beal was eager to see what sort of opportunities he might find. The Monroeville native recently return to care for an aging relative. Connecting to opportunity has been a challenge.

“The job market has been hard,” he said. “That’s what led me to this career fair. I’ve been looking for a job for about a year and a half.” With a 20-year background leading programs for disadvantaged youth and young people with learning disabilities, he considered the career fair an ideal opportunity to expand his network.

“I’ve talked to a few people in my area of expertise, and I’m just really getting started, so I think that I’ll definitely network, and this is a great place for that.”

Trina Alford was on the lookout for new talent and taking resumes from interested candidates. The FedEx Ground talent acquisition coordinator needs package handlers for FedEx warehouses. “We’re gearing up for our peak season, and we need a lot of people, about 500 to 600 package handlers,” she said. “If they come now, they’re permanent and then seasonal workers start in October.”

With attractive compensation packages that include medical and dental insurance as well as tuition reimbursement, Alford said she hoped to attract the pool of military veterans in attendance.

Several of the people we’ve talked to are interested in more professional jobs,” she said. “However, with our company you can start at the bottom and work your way up.”

The possibility of finding a professional position drew Robinson Township resident Rebecca Windhorst to the career fair.

Her background is in supply chain and operations and she found prospective employers at the job fair. “I think like every other market in the country, everything is just starting to pick back up,” she said. She’s hoping the connections she makes here and the networking will help her land the right position even if it’s not available right now. “I’m getting opportunities to apply and to interview,” she says. “I just like to maximize my possibilities. That which is why I’m here.”

In all, Ford said the event — supported by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto and Partner4Work — demonstrates the collective commitment to the region’s job seekers and employers.

“Bringing opportunity to job seekers and delivering skilled and motivated talent to employers is at the very heart of what we do in servicing people and communities,” she said. “This event allows job seekers with the right skills and abilities to connect with employers with immediate hiring needs, thus reducing search time and frustration on both sides of the table.”