CareerLink Job Fair Attracts Employers, Some Job Seekers

NEW CASTLE, Pa. – Colleen Chamberlain scanned a room at the Scottish Rite Cathedral where 57 employers and 10 training providers had set up tables at a job fair.

The shortage of workers remains a problem in the region, but 30 job-seekers came through the doors in the first hour of the Wednesday event. Chamberlain, administrator for Pennsylvania CareerLink – Lawrence County, which sponsored the job fair, expected 100 to 150 job seekers to show up before the five-hour event ended.

Most employers there blamed the extra $300 per week in federal unemployment benefits for the difficulty they have had finding workers. In Ohio, that ends June 26. Chamberlain said legislation is being shaped in Pennsylvania to end the benefit sooner than September, when it expires. On July 11, the state will reinstate its requirement that those on unemployment prove they are searching for a job.

Chamberlain says there has been a noticeable swing in the reason people are coming to CareerLink. Prior to March, 90% were coming in for unemployment reasons, including filing for compensation. The other 10% were there to seek a job and take advantage of training programs. Now, the visitors are split evenly between job seekers and those filing for unemployment.

“They’ve realized that they might as well look for the job they want, not the job they have to take,” Chamberlain said.

Richard Schaas of Volant said he has been out of work since Jan. 31, but has not been able to look for a job until recently because his brother passed away in February and his wife had a stroke later that month. He started looking for work about a month and a half ago.

He’s looking for a job with the government or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“There’s jobs out there,” Schaas said. “It’s just trying to find the right fit.”

Mara Palipchak was there with her son, Layne Perretta, who recently graduated from Slippery Rock University with a degree in cybersecurity. She was happy to see another platform besides applying online, which is likely to be swamped with job seekers. They found a few leads at the job fair.

“It’s nice to have some face-to-face contacts for people getting out of school,” Palipchak said.

Perretta said he planned to apply to two or three employers. This job fair gave them opportunities they might not have experienced elsewhere.

“Sometimes you don’t know about different opportunities, different companies or what they do until you get to know more about them and talk to the employers,” Palipchak said.

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Gallery images include Colleen Chamberlain, side administrator for Pennsylvania CareerLink – Lawrence County; Hall Industries Inc. Production Manager Mike Stanton and Christine Barr, human resources; Ben O’Linchy, owner and operator of O’Linchy’s Construction Services.

Ben O’Linchy, owner and operator of O’Linchy’s Construction Services in Sharon, said his company is growing and looking for four new employees.

He’s looking for carpenters and laborers; the pay ranges from $15 to $30 an hour. He prefers to train new employees on the job so they can learn proper techniques.

Hall Industries Inc. of Ellwood City is a metal component manufacturer for the transportation and aviation industries, and bulk material handling. The company’s representatives at the job fair had eight to 10 job seekers within the first hour and hoped to see more as the day continued.

“I brought a bunch of applications and I’m hoping to get rid of them all,” says Christine Barr, who works in human resources at Hall Industries.

The company does work for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and is looking for employees who can work with ground support equipment at airports in Pittsburgh, New York City and Florida. It also is looking to hire workers with automotive and diesel experience.

Hall Industries is looking to fill 17 manufacturing, fabrication and welding positions.

“We’ve had challenges of being able to find enough people to fill open positions, qualified people,” said Mike Stanton, production manager for Hall. “We’re hopeful it’s going to pick up here very soon.”

Jobs start at $14 an hour and increase with the level of experience, Barr said. “If they start at the entry level, they have the opportunity to grow, and that’s what we want,” she said.

Barr viewed the job fair viewed as an opportunity not only for her company but for job seekers.

“This is the golden moment to apply, because everywhere you go everybody’s hiring,” she said. “So if I were a job seeker, I would be going to these events to find opportunities to get hired.”

Pictured at top: Mara Palipchak and her son, Layne Perretta, attended the job fair Wednesday and were two of about 30 job-seekers within the first hour.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.