Thursday, March 17, 2011
Area job seekers find hope
By SUE WATSON
There were real job opportunities available at the recent Marshall-Benton Area Job Fair.
About 400 job seekers and 40 registered employers interacted to bring good things to the area.
Toyota and a tier 1 supplier were represented this year for the first time.
Derrick Price said although people looking for a job with Toyota assembly plant in Blue Springs have to apply through the Mississippi Department of Employment Security online (www.mdes.ms.gov) it is not that hard to file an application online. Toyota has hired about 450 and needs to get that number up to 1,500 by October, he said.
“We’re hiring now and will continue through summer,” Price said. “Our hiring process is so thorough that normally if a person gets a job offer, they’ve made a pretty good investment and normally we are able to fill them.”
There is no online testing when a person has applied for a job with Toyota online, he said. After that initial screening online comes a face-to-face process, he said.
Perry Walker, with Toyota’s tier 1 supplier Auto Parts Manufacturing Mississippi in Guntown, said a person can go to any WIN Job Center in the state to apply for a job with Auto Parts. He was taking resumes at the job fair. People will fill out a paper application and can look at jobs available, he said.
“We will be hiring first and second shift from now until Thanksgiving,” he said. “We started with 11 production team members February 28 and we will have 240-plus total employees.”
Atlanta Gail Cervetti, regional manager for Select Staffing, was upbeat about jobs and the economy.
“Distribution and manufacturing never saw a burst,” she said. “We saw a leveling off, but there were always jobs available. Prior to the downturn, people could not present themselves well to an employer and could still get a job. That changed.”
Employers were more likely to use an agency than to hire directly during the economic slump, Cervetti said.
“We became a key part of helping employers get back on their feet and to connect with job seekers,” she said. “A lot of companies were closing or laying off and a lot of those people were passive about seeking new work.”
The biggest hit for employees took place in mid-level management and office support staff - that taking place at the end of 2009. That eroding of management and staff support jobs has stabilized, she said.
“That is stabilizing, absolutely,” Cervetti said. “I’m trying to hire 10 supervisors right now.”
Job seekers who already have a job are showing that people are feeling more comfortable with the economy, she said.
“They have a job and are looking for a job they want,” she said. “They are more comfortable in switching jobs now.”
That trend began to shift into place in 2010 and 2011, she said, especially with management level workers.
Select Staffing has about 400 offices nationwide and is in the top 10 staffing agencies in the United States, Cervetti said.
The north Mississippi area has had it better than other places in the state, she said.
“What helped insulate us a little bit in Mississippi is that warehousing and distribution were our core,” she said. “We are close enough to the distribution corridor so people had jobs. The manufacturing sector got killed. Distribution went down, too, but didn't have it as hard as up north in say Ohio, where there was so much manufacturing.
“That distribution corridor really makes a difference. Ramp (airlines), rail, river and roads - those four - provide corporations and job stability in this area. It makes a big difference. There is a trend, too, to make things just in time for orders. So manufacturing does not hold an inventory and does not make it until it is needed. That being said, you want to get it out quickly. You don’t want to make it too soon before you need it.”
Attendance at the job fair this year was about half what it was last year with 412 job seekers coming through before noon.
It was held in the W.A. McMillan Gym at Rust College.
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