Nearly 60 employers met upwards of 500 job seekers Tuesday at the New Bern Riverfront Convention Center; hopefully on Wednesday unemployment figures in New Bern will go down.
It was the third annual Craven Works Opportunities for Success work fair, sponsored by the Craven 100 Alliance.
Alliance executive director Timothy Downs said a lot of businesses had returned for the fair, though there were some new ones as well. He said he was pleased with the turnout of job seekers.
“These are either for current openings, or future openings — and by ‘future’ I don’t mean two years from now,” he said.
The variety of potential employees was broad: Craven County Schools and the cities of New Bern and Havelock were among the employers hoping for new and motivated blood. Smaller companies like A Dog’s Dream and Carolina Quick Lube and Car Wash were represented, alongside of chains and national companies such as Bojangles, Woodmen Life, PPG Paints and BB&T Bank.
Last year about 540 people filled out registration forms and visited the booths that offered literature, application forms, goody bags and stuff to put in them from candy to balsa-wood gliders.
Chris Bailey, career and technical education director with Craven County Schools, said the school system is in need of new teachers. They not only had a booth at Craven Works, he said, but they are recruiting across the state and into other states — especially Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, states known for an overabundance of teachers.
He said that applicants don’t necessarily have to have teaching certificates. If a teacher comes in as an “entry level” teacher, he or she can work on the certificate as they teach.
“Most folks who do that work out really well,” he said.
He added that the school district “has a lot of good, dedicated teachers. But we’re trying to find a few more.”
Anthony Fortuno, banquet manager with The Flame, said he was hoping to fill a number of positions for servers.
“We’re coming onto the busy season,” he said.
Fortuno said he took a close look at any applicants’ presentation. “How you dress,” he said, “your presentation. Neatness in appearance is a big thing. ‘Dress for success.’”
Other companies including Craven Community College, N.C. Works Career Center and the Division of Vocational Rehab were also on hand to help job-seekers hone their strategies.
Tables between booths served as places for job hunters to sit and fill out applications and forms.
Nia Hargett was one job hunter. She said she is working now, but only part time. “I’m looking for administrative work,” she said, “something I can stick to.”
Sitting across from her, Marc Lewis studied a form in front of him. His first love is music. He plays piano and trumpet among a number of other things, but it isn’t always easy paying the bills. He said he is hoping to land something in the maintenance field.
“I’’ll take just about anything,” he said.