Employers seek applicants at Hudson Valley

IMG_4658Konrad Odhiambo | THE HUDSONIAN

 

The unemployment rate stood at 5.8 statewide percent this month, the lowest point since September 2008. On Mar. 10, 106 employers from across the area offered students employment opportunities at the Community Job Fair in the McDonough Sports Complex, a 25 percent increase over last year’s fair.

For many students, the job fair not only provided openings for part-time work and internships, but was also a launching pad for career opportunities in growing industries.

According to Gayle Healy, director of the Center for Careers and Employment, more employers are seeking Heating/Air Conditioning/Refrigeration Technical Services (HVAC-R) and Electrical Construction and Maintenance (ECM) graduates than ever before. “We’re finding more technologies-based positions on the upswing [this year],” said Healy.

From January of last year to the beginning of this year, jobs in construction have increased 4.3 percent, according to the Department of Labor.

“There’s a lot of students with a technical background here, so it’s a great opportunity for us to see people, meet them and put a good face for National Grid,” said Chris Shelanskey, representative for the electricity and gas utility company. “We know that they’re trained and we know that they can do the job, so it’s a big deal for us.”

“Our class came as a whole. I’m not looking into anything until I graduate but National Grid and Gross Electric really stood out to me when I get out,” said Connor McDonough, an ECM student who graduates in 2016.

“I think the companies were represented well, but GlobalFoundries really stuck out to me overall,” said Oran Crandall, HVAC-R student.

“We’ve have had an ongoing relationship with Hudson Valley students,” said Suzanne Wolff from GlobalFoundries, which employs over 2,400 people in the Capital Region.

Many students in the HVAC-R and ECM program are required to attend the job fair as part of their class schedule. Richard Porter, Building Systems Technologies Department Chair, reported telling students in his labor relations class, “Get your butt down here. I know you’re only in your second semester, but it never hurts to see what’s available.”

IMG_4667Konrad Odhiambo | THE HUDSONIAN

Porter said, “I want them down here so they know what’s available for next year. [I want to them to know] what kind of jobs, what kinds of money are out there and start planning.” He mentioned that Assistant Professor James Countryman was providing an incentive for ECM students to collect three business cards: ten extra points on the following test.

Students outside of the ECM and HVAC-R programs sought employment independently while awaiting graduation this May. “I’m still working at Burger King. I’ve been working there for a year now. It’s tiring, but I’m almost done [at Hudson Valley]. I believe it’s still important to scout out opportunities in the technologies field after I leave,” said Tajalee Andrew, CIS student.

The job fair assists businesses such as Belvedere Health Services LLC, targeting students in the nursing and human services program. “The [job fair] helps us a lot because we feel like here we get quality employees. The turnout has always been really good,” said Tammy Perkins of Belvedere Health Services LLC. According to Perkins, during the past three years she has worked for Belvedere, on average, about six applicants are hired at each Hudson Valley job fair.

Other employers, such as RPI and ProTek Recycling, were disappointed by the turnout this year. “I’m surprised that there’s not more people here. I’m really disappointed at the volume, but the quality of the applicants has been pretty good,” said Kathy McNamara, manager of employment operations at RPI.

“We were expecting there to be more students,” said Melissa Bates of ProTek Recycling, which is based out of Troy.

The job fair attracted people from across the area. According to the Center for Careers and Employment, 157 guests and alumni registered for the job fair. “It’s definitely good to see the economy is better now. When I heard about this, I jumped up at the opportunity,” said Phillip Graham from Albany, who has been unemployed for the past six months.

Hasan Goodbee, who graduated in 2004 in liberal arts, recently left his job as a health representative for Corporate Woods. “It’s my first time around here in a long time, so I’m trying to check out every opportunity there is available and take it,” he said.

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