George Bailey Jr. and Terence Eley waiting in line behind them, Gracie Robinson talks to Suffolk police officer Dwayne Wiggins about joining the force. Organizers reported a strong turnout at Friday’s Job Fair and Career Expo, held at King’s Fork Middle School.
George Bailey Jr. and Terence Eley waiting in line behind them, Gracie Robinson talks to Suffolk police officer Dwayne Wiggins about joining the force. Organizers reported a strong turnout at Friday’s Job Fair and Career Expo, held at King’s Fork Middle School.

Jobseekers flock to KFMS

Published 10:52pm Friday, July 11, 2014

The Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s second annual job fair Friday certainly had more elbow room.

After last year’s event choked the Salvation Army’s Bank Street building with jobseekers and snarled traffic, the scene at the King’s Fork Middle School recreation center was much less congested.

“I would say we’ve probably had three to four hundred,” Michael Smith, resident service coordinator with the authority, said of the turnout by 11 a.m.

“The turnout is just as large as we had last year.”

Forty vendors had been booked for the event as of the end of June, and they seemed impressed with the applicant pool.

“I think the applicant quality is diverse,” said Saundra Johnson of AppleOne Employment.

“Certainly you are going to get more of the lighter-industrial candidates here. But there is some professional, there is some IT.”

Grasie Robinson said she had just landed a job at McDonald’s after two years in the hunt, but was looking for something better.

In fact, she was looking toward law enforcement, planning to join Suffolk Police Department.

“When I was in high school, I wanted to be in the Air Force,” she explained. “That didn’t work out very well.”

Then she went to Everest College, she said, and trained to become an “electrician’s helper,” but couldn’t find work in that field without first having experience — a Catch-22 many new to the workforce face.

Someone else at the Job Fair and Career Expo was Angelo Copeland, out of work since October.

Before that, he said, he worked in construction, but he wants to go back again to working as a machine operator.

“It’s very frustrating,” Copeland said. “I’m not saying the job market is not improving, but I put my application in and nobody rings.”

Jobseeker Donya Steward remarked that a lot of the jobs on offer were low paying. She works in human resources management, she said, and has been out of work about a month.

“Most of my job hunt has been online,” she said. “A lot of government positions. I’m not getting frustrated yet, but I’m married, so my spouse helps me out.”

Smith said he’d received good reports from jobseekers and vendors alike. “The facility has worked out well,” he said. “There are no lines. Everybody has a chance to move around.”

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