GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The community room in the basement of Crandall Public Library acts as a hub for many things. At times, it’s used for library and city events. At others, it becomes a home for events like the Adirondack Film Festival. On Thursday morning, it was a place for those looking for work.
On Thursday, Warren County held its first in-person job fair since the COVID-19 pandemic at the library. Businesses smaller and larger occupied eight tables, along with a ninth covered in flyers from businesses who couldn’t get a whole booth, but still wanted to make their needs known. Over 30 people visited over the course of the morning. The jobs they heard about ranged from caring for an elder to becoming a welder.
“Right now, welders are number one,” said James Alheim, representing Stone Bridge Iron & Steel. “There’s also fabricators, janitors, and a lot of others. This job fair is great because it gives you a perspective from everybody. People come in and say, ‘I’m not sure what I’d like to do,’ and that’s the kind of people we’re looking for.”
It’s not just a matter of not knowing what you want to do, but also about not knowing if you have the skills. Just before speaking with NEWS10, Alheim spoke with one interested visitor who had experience working on a dairy farm. That experience brings with it hours using specific machinery that could be applied to any number of jobs. The rest can come from training and certification, which the Gansevoort-based business is happy to help with.
Many people may look at a type of employer and only think of one kind of job that might be offered there. Job fairs help employers disabuse the public of those notions. Queensbury Union Free School District was there to seek out new substitute and disability educators, but also automotive personnel to help with the upkeep of school buses. That was a similar story across the different tables.
“We do a lot of cross-training, but it is still individualized departments,” said Amy McByrne, at a table for Warren County-managed Countryside Adult Home in Warrensburg. “I know a lot of places, when they hire, they expect their employees to work in multiple areas. When we hire, we’re hiring for that department, not asking anyone to pick up 10 different job duties.”
The center is looking to hire two cooks and two institutional aid staff to help with the care of the up to 48 residents living there. The need for more staff has certainly grown in scope since the COVID-19 pandemic. McByrne says people tend to stay once they’re hired, but getting new faces in the door has become more of a challenge than ever.
The same is true in different ways around the room. Stone Bridge is working on projects inside and outside of New York, reaching as far as parts of Maine. Alheim says the problem there is less to do with people quitting, and more with a huge amount of work ripe for the picking. He just needs the personnel to pick it.
“Absolutely, the job market is different now,” said Warren County Workforce Development Coordinator Liza Ochsendorf. “The other thing we’ve been talking with businesses about is engaging students: College students, high school students, even middle school students, to start thinking about career options in their local community.”
Up until now, Warren County and others have held job fairs virtually, starting at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that they’re gathering employers and job seekers in the same room again, Thursday is just the start. Ochsendorf is planning more job fairs in the near future, with more businesses present, and themes to guide the conversations around certain types of jobs and workers.
Students are one target group, with a high school job fair planned this coming March. Another, absent from Thursday’s mid-October event, is the world of area tourism and hospitality, vital to areas like Lake George.