First time job fair attendee, Chris Martin, 34 , arrived at the Juanita Millender-McDonald Community Center in Carson not knowing what to expect. Although he was amazed to see the number of people looking for work, he wasn’t discouraged by the line of people wrapped around the parking lot: “It’s a sign of the times,” Martin said.
Martin was one of about 2,500 job seekers that attended the third annual Spring into Summer Hiring Spree job fair hosted by Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas.
According to the L.A. Business Journal, the unemployment rate in Los Angeles County hovers at about 10.3 percent. Although the rate has fallen considerably from 11.4 percent a year ago, the local unemployment rate remains higher than the 9.6 percent February statewide average and far above the national 7.7 percent average.
Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ objective is to link employers who are actively hiring with Los Angeles County residents searching for employment.
“Jobs are the order of the day,” the Supervisor said. “This job fair is an opportunity for job seekers to both speak with potential employers and to ensure that they are equipped with the tools to excel in their professional careers; there are workshops ranging from dressing for success to using social media to build their professional networks.”
“There are about 1,900 jobs available from participating employers,” according to Sosi Solper, Los Angeles County Office of Education Career Development program specialist. “Everything from healthcare to education, construction to retail, hospitality to government jobs are available. “If job seekers know what they want and represent themselves well, they can walk away with a job.”
Los Angeles resident Renee Caton has been unemployed for two years. Caton, the mother of eight-month T-Andre and four-year-old Maylia, says that at the end of the day she is thinking about how she can provide for her children.
“My kids are my motivation every day that I get up,” said Caton.
Caton lost her job at a beauty salon in Anaheim due to slow business and a struggling economy.
“I’ve been looking for a job for about three months,” she said. The 23-year-old says she came to the job fair with an open mind and a positive attitude in seeking employment. “Even if I don’t get the job that I want right now, I’d rather have a job now and work towards the job that I want in the future,” Caton continued. “I arrived around 11:45 a.m., saw a big line and thought to myself, I should have got here when it opened.”
Caton was in line when Juan Chavez, a service worker with the Department of Public Social Services Greater Avenues for Independence, made the announcement that admittance into the community hall was not guaranteed due to the high number of attendees.
“People started to line up at 7:30 a.m. this morning,” Chavez said. ” This line is never ending. “People were disappointed to hear the announcement but it seemed like they understood.”
After waiting in line for an hour, Viviana Viveros, 20, from Gardena, was excited to enter the job fair and begin her quest for a job in the medical field as a pharmacy technologist.
Similar to Caton, Viveros has been unemployed for two years and has a five-month-old baby she supports.[raw]“It’s hard and sometimes frustrating,” said Viveros. “I’m eager and ready to work.”
Graphic design major and recent graduate of Cal State Dominguez Hills, Chris Moya, 23, from Torrance was pleased to find the job fair had openings in his field.
“I’ve been to four job fairs in the last two years and they didn’t have any graphic design positions,” said Moya. “I’m leaving today with a huge smile on my face because I was able to find a job opportunity in my field in addition to other job opportunities.”
Since 2011, the Spring into Summer Hiring Spree, has been an opportunity for job seeks to meet with hiring managers in private sector companies, non-profit organizations and government agencies. Co-sponsored by the Los Angeles County Office of Education, the Department of Public Social Services, the City of Carson and the Compton WorkSource Center, this year’s event included workshops targeted to equip attendees with tools to get employed. The workshops addressed subjects such as social media etiquette, business dressing and how to transition from parole to work.[/raw]