The Black Press Extreme Education and Career Fair showcased over 30 employers, service providers and post-secondary schools at the Hart Community Centre in Prince George on Thursday (Oct 10).
Vendors were kept busy by over 700 attendees who visited as many booths as they could for career advice, education options or an idea of what the job climate is.
While there is a worry that jobs are evaporating in places that have often relied on the resource economy, the fair showed that there are many avenues to explore within both private and public sectors for the shrewd job hunter.
Vince Jones is an instructor for the British Columbia Institute of Technology in the school of transportation and railway. He teaches indigenous students from Prince George and surrounding areas to get entry-level training to jobs in the railway industry.
He brought a few of his students to the career fair to get some face-to-face time with CN Rail and REMCAN who both had booths there.
“Railway is a high demand industry, so they’re always looking for people,” he said, “There are a lot of retirements happening, a lot of people moving out… so that’s why they’re at career fairs like this.”
He says career fairs are good for introducing people to the companies that they could be working for.
“It gives them an idea of what jobs are available, what the pay scale is, what the working conditions are and whether it’s right for them,” he said.
“They get to talk to the employers, [they] get to ask questions and get them answered. Otherwise they don’t get the meet the employer any other way.”
Jennifer Cole and Darrin Rigo were in house representing the University of Northern British Columbia.
Rigo talked with passers-by about the academic for-credit side of the school – bachelor degrees, masters degrees and PHD studies – while Cole discussed the continuing education programs the school offers.
Rigo said professional development is key to improving ones career prospects.
“Any kind of education or extra-skills training opens up doors,” he said, “Be it connections from the university or skills you pick up in the classroom.”
“From the continuing education side it’s also very important,” she said, “We have specific courses that can lead to certificates or just practical skills that students can then take out into the work force.”
From their perspective the fair was a success.
“We’ve had lots of inquiring minds,” said Rigo, “People looking for both employment or training skills. There have been lots of good questions.”
Natasha Tupper was at the fair with the YMCA, helping them recruit for their child care department. She said she was looking to fill positions for early childhood education in both Prince George and Vanderhoof.
She added these career fairs are valuable tools in their recruitment process.
“I’ve already got a few applications and I’m excited to follow up with them.”
Mike McGuire, who was manning the Summit Trailer booth, was impressed with the day too.
“It’s gone really well, he said, “This is the second one I’ve been to and this is certainly an improvement over the last one.”
His company was looking for red-seal mechanics, welders and fabricators as well as a service manager.
McGuire said he came across a variety of potential candidates.
“We’ve met everything from high school students to people transitioning [industries].
“With the mills shutting down and people being laid off, there are people here with a vast amount of experience that are looking to transition out of forestry into a different industry using their same skill set.”