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A handful of local organizations have come together to host a unique job fair and employability program focused on filling manufacturing jobs in the community by providing qualified candidates.
The ReadyNow! job fair will run March 6-8 in Grand Valley State University’s Kirkhof Center, located on the Allendale campus.
Several local work-force development agencies will be seeking and selecting job seekers to participate in the program, including Michigan Works!, Goodwill Industries and Talent2025.
More than a standard job fair, what makes the three-day ReadyNow! job fair unique is that job seekers don’t just show up and go table-to-table handing out resumes to company representatives. Instead, job seekers are assigned to “table teams,” each of which has a “table captain,” who is a human resources representative from the participating companies. That person will help prepare the job seekers for the interviews with companies that will occur on day three.
Each table team is required to attend a series of workshops that focus on soft skills such as team building, resume writing, career exploration, personal success and practice presenting a positive, employable image through mock interviews.
Prior to attending ReadyNow!, job seekers also must register online and attend an orientation at Michigan Works! that will explain the employability program’s larger objectives.
On Friday, March 8, job seekers who have completed the requirements and received a certificate of completion will be given the opportunity to interview with a minimum of two of the participating employers.
“(Traditional) job fairs weren’t being as successful for some of our members or job seekers as we need them to be,” said Chris Glass, director of public policy forGrand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, about the ReadyNow! model, which was piloted previously on the lakeshore.
Glass said that what the larger employability program does is provide the opportunity for a deeper engagement between employers and job seekers, as well as between the hiring companies and organizations like Goodwill and Michigan Works! that are providing training services and resources to the unemployed.
Participating manufacturing employers must have a minimum of five full-time job openings currently available. The job fair is expected to draw 150 pre-qualified job candidates. The job fair is open to all job seekers, but military veterans are specifically encouraged to attend.
“I think there are a lot of organizations and companies that want to hire veterans,” Glass said. “There is a significant need out there. Veterans’ unemployment rate remains stubbornly higher than what the average unemployment rate is. The thing that everyone is trying to wrap their hands around is they know there is an incredible amount of skill within our veteran population. Part of the gap that we’ve seen with the veteran population is how we make sure those skills and abilities we’ve learned in the service can be articulated to what a manufacturer needs.
“For the most part, veterans are humble individuals who believe I just showed up for work and I did my job. So although that is true if I’m an HR professional and I’m scanning resumes, if someone’s led a platoon or this or that, those are incredible qualities that I would want in a worker. But if they aren’t emphasized and articulated, then I don’t necessarily understand how it translates into helping my company.”
The job fair is being organized through the collaborative efforts of The Right Place, The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Talent2025, Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids, and Michigan Works! of Kent, Allegan and Ottawa counties.
“The reality is we need everybody who is able and capable to be in the work force,” Glass said.
Companies interested in participating should contact Therese Thill, The Right Place, (616) 771-0571, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Chris Glass, The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, (616) 771-0311, email@example.com. Job seekers can register to attend the program by visiting http://www.michiganworkska.org/readynow.
Ready NOW! Program Agenda
March 4-8, 2013
- Monday and Tuesday, one-on-one personal assistance and additional training at the Michigan Works! Service Centers and Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids
- Wednesday (7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.), registration and networking, welcome and program overview, team-building exercise, keynote speaker, employer panel, browse company information tables, two training workshops and table facilitation
- Thursday (7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.), registration and welcome, team-building exercise, four training workshops and table facilitation
- Friday (10 a.m.-4 p.m.), employer interviews