The Fayette County Board of Education partnered with the Georgia Department of Labor and the Fayette Chamber of Commerce to put on a career expo in the hopes of helping those employees that were recently laid off to find work.
In all, 139 employees and former employees participated in the expo which included 36 employers that were chosen because they are currently hiring and could use the skills that the school system's employees possess.
Cindy Morley, from the Georgia Department of Labor, helped organize the whole event with her SWAT team (Special Workforce Assistance Team.) Prior to the expo, Morley and her team offered workshops which focused on interviewing skills, marketing through social media, how to work a job fair and resume writing. She said the workshops paid off considering how prepared everyone seemed to be for the expo.
"The response was excellent," Morley said. "A lot of people told us that they had concerns about coming, they didn't know what kinds of jobs would be offered. Once they got here they were very excited about the caliber of jobs that they saw and had offers from."
Part of the challenge, Morley said, is that job seeking has changed in the time since many of these people were first putting out applications.
"We worked with them on rewriting resumes and how to show skills that would be transferable. It opened up some possibilities that they maybe had not thought about," Morley said.
The expo was open to all system employees, whether currently employed or not. Melinda Berry-Dreisbach, director of Public Relations for the Board of Education, said most of the expo's attendees were parapros and secretaries that were let go due to budget cuts. Of those 'classified' positions 130 were cut, and while attrition has allowed many of them to return, there are still "40 to 50" out of work. Those positions took a large hit because they were largely funded entirely with local money with no assistance from the state. Certified positions were cut by 138, but attrition and a retirement incentive helped allow the system to retain all but around 10 of those employees.
"Of course we don't want to have to let anybody go, but we are greatful that the numbers aren't as large as we thought," Berry-Dreisbach said. "We keep hoping that as the summer wears on we may have some more opportunities to bring people back.”
Morley said most of the employers at the expo are local, though some other school systems were there looking to hire, including Henry, Griffin, Spalding, and Clayton Counties.
"A lot of the employers represented here are from fayette county, they came out in support," Morley said. A lot of the credit for getting those employers to the expo was given to the Fayette Chamber of Commerce.
"We really appreciate everything that the Fayette Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Department of Labor did to bring this together and to bring all these businesses in that are hiring," Berry-Dreisbach said.
Morley said the employers she spoke to were pleased with the quality of the applicants.
"The employers we talked to were impressed, people were dressed professionally, had their resumes, they were prepared to go to work," Morley said.
The Department of Labor will continue to follow up.
"We are in no way through," Morley said. Every job seeker was registered with the DOL and put in to a database so that they can be matched to other job openings as they become available. Morley also said that the results of the expo, in terms of how many hires were made, will be available eventually.