Koloa job fair draws large turnout

KOLOA — People sat quietly in their cars that overflowed the parking lot yesterday at the Koloa Neighborhood Center.

Jan Miyamoto, the county’s WorkWise coordinator, said the scenario was almost the same at the Hanapepe Job Fair where people who came early waited in their cars for the doors to open.

In Koloa, residents came to browse through employment opportunities being offered by the 21 employers and 11 agency representatives during the second regional job fair this year.

WorkWise staff member Eric Nordmeier said based on the success of the Hanapepe fair on Oct. 18, they were anticipating similar numbers.

At the inaugural regional job fair in Hanapepe, Nordmeier said more than 200 people filed through the offerings of 19 employers and agencies.

“It must have been successful,” he said. “Today, we have 32 vendors. That is an increase from Hanapepe.”

Nordmeier said the state unemployment rate was at 4.4 percent, according to numbers released some six weeks ago. Kaua‘i’s unemployment rate at that time was at 4.8 percent.

“But that rate has been creeping up,” Nordmeier said. “It is probably at about 5 percent for Kaua‘i now.”

That was evidenced by the steady flow of people streaming into the doors of the Koloa Neighborhood Center seeking sources of income to sustain their families.

Among those offering employment, the Maui Divers had a table where they were recruiting employees for their shop at the Kukui‘ula Village shopping center which is scheduled to open next summer. But further details were referred to their main office.

Macy’s came armed with employment offers for its seasonal hirings.

“We did fairly well at the Hanapepe Job Fair, but at that time we had no full-time employment opportunities,” said Michelle Freitas of the Macy’s Human Resources office at the Kukui Grove store. “Today, we have 47 openings including seasonal work. We’re expecting another great day.”

Of those openings, Freitas said they had full-time, part-time and on-call positions for prospective employees.

She noted that an indication of the condition of the economy is that the resumes of applicants show a lot of experience.

Macy’s was one of the 21 employers who could have prospective employees fill out applications online.

Aimee Lorenzo of the Grand Hyatt Regency Kaua‘i Resort and Spa’s Human Resources office was also steady with people stopping by to investigate the six positions it had available.

“This is a good turnout,” she said between fielding questions. “It’s better than we expected and it’s good to see everyone coming out.”

Among the employer representatives, Nordmeier was pleased to see Amsec, a Pacific Missile Range Facility contractor, with its table.

Amsec joined Lockheed Martin and Aqua Engineers who were seeking employees in the high tech field.

Other employers included Akamai Services, the Army National Guard, Big Save, Claire’s Jewelry and Accessories, Costco, Hale ‘Opio, Hawai‘i Healthcare Professionals, the Kaua‘i Fire Department, the Kaua‘i Police Department, Kiewit Pacific, Mark’s Place, the Marriott Hotel, McDonald’s, No Ka Oi Landscaping and Tradewinds ‘Ohana.

Agency representatives included Alu Like, Abore Tree, the Kaua‘i Community School for Adults, the Hawai‘i Job Corps Center, Ho‘omana, Kaua‘i Economic Opportunity, Kaua‘i Community College, KCC Cooperative Education, the Paxen Group, Vocational Rehabilitation and WorkWise Kaua‘i.

The regional job fairs are designed to bring the employers to people’s communities so they don’t necessarily have to drive into Lihu‘e, Nordmeier said.

In addition to being able to meet with employers, prospective employees had opportunities to fill out applications as well as work with Miyamoto who manned a computer station where applications could be completed online, or resumes printed out.

Nordmeier said the next regional job fair is scheduled for March for the Eastside and will be held at the Kapa‘a Armory. That event will be followed by the annual WorkWise Career Fair at Kukui Grove in May.

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