Job fair at Frontier gives employers a chance to make their pitches

  • The Franklin Hampshire Career Center’s Spring Fling Job Fair Wednesday, March 28, 2018. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • The Franklin Hampshire Career Center’s Spring Fling Job Fair took place last week at Frontier Regional High School. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon

For the Bulletin
Thursday, April 05, 2018

SOUTH DEERFIELD — With regional unemployment rates consistently lower than they’ve been in decades, the job market is favorable toward those seeking employment — as evidenced March 28 by a strong showing at The Franklin Hampshire Career Center’s 11th annual Spring Fling Job Fair.

“We’re 35 minutes in, and we’re almost at 100 people,” said Penni Menard, business service representative with the job center in Greenfield. About 200 people attended last year’s two-hour event.

Menard stood behind a sign-in table just inside Frontier Regional School. Filling the room behind her, 42 employers pitched their respective businesses to potential employees, many of whom already held positions elsewhere and were looking for a career change, according to Ann Deres, a business service supervisor at the center.

Based on state data from the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, Franklin County currently has a labor force of 40,394 people, with 38,836 employed and 1,558 unemployed, making an unemployment rate of 3.9 percent. Statewide, Massachusetts’ unemployment has more or less steadily declined since 2009. The highest unemployment rate recorded in that year was 8.8 percent — more than double what it is now.

“Right now, because unemployment is so low, every employer is having a hard time filling jobs,” Deres said.

Menard noted that every employer invited to come Wednesday was there, attracting hundreds of job seekers.

Businesses represented a wide variety of employment industries such as health care, manufacturing, tourism and education. Among those employers, MGM Springfield advertised for more than 3,000 jobs, Cooley Dickinson Hospital was on hand with nearly 100 openings and Yankee Candle Company had about 70 vacancies.

“We’re growing, and we usually have openings, but not like this,” said Lisa DeLisle, representing Mayhew Steel Products, advertising for positions in machine operation and supervisory roles.

In 15 years of small business ownership, Kyle Canepari of Canepari’s Landscaping in Shelburne said he’s never seen the job market as tough for employers as it is today.

“Not this bad,” Canepari said, who came to Frontier Regional trying to fill a variety of positions in landscaping. “It’s seasonal turnover from winter to spring. This is our busiest time of year, from April to July.”

In the health care industry, prospective employees often have to enter with training — narrowing the market for employers.

“It’s very difficult to find good caregivers. My suspicion is that there are so many facilities, and the need is so great, that the market is depleted as soon as a caregiver becomes available. And that need is going to continue to increase,” said Erica Morrison-Brazitis, director of client operations at Comprehensive Home Care in Belchertown.

“Under medical regulations, we need to have people who are qualified,” said Christine Moriarty, registry owner and director of nursing services at Commonwealth Registry of Nurses Inc. “You’ve gotta keep your fingers crossed.”

The March 28 event was a chance for employers to fill those needs through personal interactions — something that’s becoming increasingly rare in today’s technology-driven world. “These days, you send your resume into the ether and you don’t know what happens to it,” said Jeffrey Flood, a job-seeker from East Longmeadow. “So many jobs are online now.”

You don’t know who’s looking at your resume.”

Looking ahead, for those who missed Wednesday’s job fair, The Franklin Hampshire Career Center will host a career and job fair at Greenfield Community College on Thursday, April 12, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and on Wednesday, April 18 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the Amherst Survival Center. For more information, visit: fhcc-onestop.com.