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East AlabamaWorks to host hiring fair

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Teachers learn

Teachers are shown on a recent tour of a manufacturing company to learn more about jobs that are available to students.

Hiring fair, not job fair.

Lisa Morales, the director of East AlabamaWorks, believes the difference is important.

“Many of our employees will be hiring on the spot,” she said. “A hiring fair is great for people to meet the employer, versus applying online, making phone calls, going to an interview and perhaps being hired.”

Morales and program manager Carl Brady hope job-seekers will attend the hiring fair on Tuesday, Nov. 2.

Both work for East AlabamaWorks, a state program that is funded through the Alabama Department of Commerce and AIDT, a division of that department.

The goal of East AlabamaWorks is to assist companies in finding well-trained employees and to assist employees in obtaining and maintaining the skills they need to succeed in the workplace. To facilitate that goal, Morales and Brady work with seven counties in Region 2 of East AlabamaWorks, which encompasses Calhoun, Clay, Cherokee, Cleburne, Etowah, Randolph and Talladega counties.

One of those companies that will be at the hiring fair is an old Anniston company, Lee Brass, maker of 745 different lead-free fittings for companies around the world. At this time, Lee Brass needs furnace operators, cleaning-room and machine-shop employees, and programmers. It’s also actively looking for supervisors.

The fair will be from 3-6 p.m. at the Oxford Civic Center, where hopeful workers should keep in mind a few tips.

“Come dressed for success,” Brady recommends. “Present yourself as if you are going for an interview. People will be there hiring employees, and we have breakout rooms available for in-depth interviews.”

Brady recommends each person bring several copies of their resumes and be prepared to be hired on the spot.

Years ago, the state decided that each region had its own individual challenges and needs.

“We have automotive,” Brady said. “Of course, there are the Honda suppliers, but there is a huge variety of manufacturers of other things. A hiring fair is a good way to see all the things that are out there.”

In past years, many manufacturers, according to Brady, were rather secretive about their processes and proprietary procedures. However, their human resource employees realized that as unemployment went down, they had to begin reaching out to communities to get employees.

One of Brady’s responsibilities is to help these companies know the best places to reach out to the community. Also, he works to bring together community leaders and students who can prepare ahead of time for a good career.

“Students don’t have to leave the east Alabama area to find a good family-sustaining career,” Brady said.

The current post-COVID period has changed the work environment. Companies, especially manufacturers, are having a hard time finding people to apply for jobs. The situation is good for employees because it can drive up wages.

Brady’s job is also to facilitate the relationships that allow a company to voice their needs to the public, politicians and educational entities. Earlier this week, he met with company representatives in the transportation sector, which needs certified truck drivers and warehouse workers. Representatives from Gadsden State Community College, who were present in the meeting, plan to expand the Commercial Driver’s License training programs and make other changes, simply because they are listening to the company representatives.

Brady recommends that those looking for jobs visit the Alabama Career Center in their community, which, for Calhoun Countians, is next door to the Ayers Campus of GSCC on Coleman Road.

Brady’s suggestion for students is to realize a high school diploma, in today’s world, isn’t enough; however, that doesn’t mean they need a four-year degree. Perhaps, instead, they need to engage in a certification program or a two-year college degree.

All these efforts to match employees and employers are coming about because of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, a federal program, which provides a variety of funding streams for scholarships for people who want to learn a trade. Also, companies may be able to get money to help train their potential employees. On-the-job training is also available, and the WIOA provides some companies with funding to help pay for an employee’s salary while they are being trained. The WIOA also provides tax incentives to companies and programs of other kinds.

“The hiring fair is a great way to see many of our regional companies all in one location,” Brady said, “and job-seekers can shop around for the best opportunities while selling themselves to the representatives of these companies.”