With over 50 vendors in attendance, residents of San Benito County converged on the Veteran’s Memorial Building in Hollister on Aug. 30 for the San Benito County Employment and Community Resource Fair.
“It is our duty and obligation to put on these events for the benefit of our community,” said Enrique Arreola, deputy director of community service and workforce development for the San Benito County Health and Human Services Agency. “It’s a different venue. It provides an option to come to one place with multiple employers.”
Asked about the county unemployment rate, Arreola said it is just above four percent, with a workforce of 27,000 people. Of this number, more than 60 percent commute to work outside the county, with youth having the highest unemployment rate.
Addressing the issue of youth unemployment, Son Kim was at the event representing the San Jose Job Corps Center. Kim stated he has observed a higher rate of distraction and inability to focus in vocational training, job readiness and high school diploma assistance with younger participants.
“There are so many distractions in front of them. Mainly cell phone use and social media,” Kim said. “I think to myself, ‘You are going to school to better yourself and instead are not utilizing it.’”
Still, Kim and event organizers participated in Thursday’s event in hopes of educating all interested residents about what jobs and services were available to them.
For people still in need of employment in the county, Arreola stated there are between 1,200 to 1,300 people still looking for jobs.
To meet this need, the San Benito County Health and Human Services Agency work in collaboration with local branches of the California Employment Development Department (EDD) and America’s Job Center of California to help provide employers and potential employees the opportunity to meet one another.
“Our everyday thought is how to get a person matched with an employer,” said Nelda Escamilla, who works for the EDD and helped put on the event. “Our number one [thought for the job fair] was getting employers committed and then we concentrated on getting employees here.”
Etienne Herholdt, who came to the event to support Bulldog Boxing, as well as to see what jobs were available, appreciated the opportunity to meet employers face-to-face.
“With a job fair like this you know what’s available,” Herholdt said. “It’s different from seeing a description on the screen. It lets you see who you may be working with.”
One employer in recruiting mode was the San Benito County Office of Education. Jen Logue, an administrator at SBCOE, explained that jobs in education are sought after in San Benito County by people wanting a profession that makes a difference and because of the draw of San Benito County itself.
“Education is such a good profession to be in,” Logue said. “This is a good community to raise your family. We have salaries and benefits that draw people in and housing prices are more affordable.”
For some businesses, the chance to look locally for employees and share what their organizations were about was beneficial.
BenitoLink, San Benito County’s online nonprofit news organization, was looking for contributors interested in reporting, photography and graphic design.
“It was a great opportunity to tell people about us,” said Leslie David, executive director of BenitoLink. “People gave story ideas and complemented stories," she said. BenitoLink lured people in with their irresistible, custom made Lighthouse cupcakes.
Adrian Yanez, an instructor at Bulldog Boxing, was at the event hoping to share classes offered at the gym. Yanez was there to promote an anti-bullying program they are developing for youth in the community, as well as a free fitness classes to youth under 18.
For more information on employment and training opportunities in San Benito County, visit San Benito County Health and Human Services Agency, EDD, and America’s Job Center of California.
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