The American Job Center’s (AJC) state-highlighted career fair at the Blount County Public Library on Thursday saw about two dozen people searching for employment with numerous local businesses and agencies.
One of seven prominent job events that were part of Tennessee’s Department of Labor & Work Force Development “Keep Working TN Week” initiative, the library event featured businesses like Blackberry Farms and governmental departments like the Blount County Sheriff’s Office and Knoxville Police Department.
Ivan Green is with Alcoa’s AJC and said the two-hour event was about active, intentional recruitment.
“Having job seekers come in and see all these different employers in one place we hope encourages more to come out,” he said in an interview. “That’s really the purpose of the job fair.”
He said this is the first fair event for the fall. There may be more, he said, depending on the numbers. AJC definitely will work with the Blount County Chamber of Commerce on its spring fair, which it does annually.
But for people who weren’t able to make it to the Aug. 16 fair, Green said, the opportunity to get connected to a job isn’t gone.
The Alcoa-based job center at 366 Glascock St. is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every weekday and can help connect Blount Countians to both employers that were at the fair and many others.
“We have a resource room where you can look for jobs that are posted on the Jobs4TN website,” Green said. “We can also help you with your resumé or help you connect directly to employers. ... We have relationships with employers which allow us to vouch for you.”
Employees there also can help job seekers with interview preparation, Green said. They can look into paid training options as well or apply for financial aid.
AJC helps with education too, Green said. Adult education is available there as well as education for people who have been dislocated.
“The job centers have really a variety of services from a variety of partners which really are beneficial to the job seekers,” Green said. “The future looks bright. We are excited about more opportunities for more job seekers to come out. We’re very optimistic about that.”
Blount is no stranger to a national trend that’s seen businesses in many sectors forced to adapt.
Many local businesses — both small and industrial — are shifting their employment models to adapt to a quickly shifting market. Some are offering walk-in interviews and on-the-spot hires.
Others are offering sign-on bonuses, increased pay and a host of other incentives.
“Across the state, Tennessee employers continue struggling to find a qualified workforce,” Department of Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner Jeff McCord said in a news release announcing the week of fairs.
But he also said Tennessee has the labor resources to meet that deficit. “We have the people and the programs available to not only help Tennesseans find employment but help them start on the journey towards a new career.”
The state’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August was at 4.6%, compared to July’s 4.7%.
In Blount, the latest data shows county unemployment was at 4.6% in June.
As of July, Blount’s labor force participation rate — the number of employed workers and people actively seeking employment — was 60.9%, a total 62,776, according to Tennessee labor force data.
On Jobs4TN.gov, a Blount County job search shows there are currently about 4,000 job openings. The highest number of openings is in nursing.