Job hopefuls connect at fair

LIHUE — Brad Whitmore of Kalaheo is hopeful the connections he made Tuesday will bear fruit.

“I’m looking for something in management, or a head chef position,” Whitmore said. “I applied online and I notice there were several positions. I have a culinary arts degree and need something more secure than off-and-on hours.”

Whitmore was one of a steady stream of people seeking employment from the 60 vendors participating in the WorkWise Job Fair at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall.

“We have a lot of jobs here,” said Kaeo Bradford of the county’s Office of Economic Development. “Between all of the vendors, there are more than 200 positions which need to be filled.”

Cherie Cabading, human resources manager for Times Supermarket, said they received a bunch of applications and hired a few people from the last job fair at the Kukui Grove Center.

“But we’re always looking for good people,” Cabading said. “We have the holiday season coming up and we’re going to need to fill positions. We have all kinds of jobs, and we need good people.”

Nainoa Kauwe-Lau and Hazzard McDougall, both of Waimea, submitted applications at the Times table.

“We’re looking for any kind of jobs,” Kauwe-Lau said. “Labor type jobs are OK. We’re fresh out of high school and we need money.”

McDougall said they were looking for outdoor, farming type jobs and applied at four, or five different places.

“This is exciting,” said Christine Watanabe, human resource representative for Safeway Stores. “We are looking for people for our Lihue store which is scheduled to open this summer. We’ll be back in March to do the hiring for the Lihue store with the new hires being trained in the Kapaa store.”

Watanabe said in anticipation of the hiring blitz in March, she was scheduled to visit the Kauai Veterans Center, which is able to accommodate the anticipated several hundred people for registration, screening, and other pre-hire procedures.

“Kauai has done a very good job with this event,” said Jade Butay, deputy director for the state’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations who was visiting for the day. “In Honolulu, we hold our fairs at the Neal Blaisdell Center. On Kauai, it’s exciting to see so much participation from vendors and their offerings.”

Ginny Cooke of Lawai said she was “just exploring” the job market.

“I’m pretty open to anything,” Cooke said. “I just moved back from Alaska where I was working on farms. But I have worked in coffee shops and retail, so I’m just seeing what is available.”

Among those who were busy, Island Air had no time to talk because they were fielding applications and conducting interviews for customer service agent and ramp positions.

Bradford said in addition to helping people find jobs, the county and the Hawaii Small Business Development Center will be hosting a free Small Business Fair from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Lihue Civic Center Breezeway.

“For people who have a small business and looking to develop the business, this fair provides support services by meeting and speaking with successful entrepreneurs,” he said.

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