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Job seekers in the driver's seat at WorkForce Career Fair

HONOLULU (KHON2) - More than 325 businesses and government agencies took part in the WorkForce Career Fair on Tuesday, Sept. 18.

The fair at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center included a number of new employers, including United Airlines, Kona Brewing Company, Queen’s Medical Center, Ground Transport, the Federal Detention Center and Adventist Health Castle.

Employers are struggling to fill openings in a persistent, record-low unemployment market.

"It's been going on for almost two years, so it's very hard to find employees. That's why you'll see such a big turnout of employers here today, why they're working so hard to get employees,” said Beth Busch, executive director of the fair. "Job seekers are now kind of in the cat-bird seat and employers have to go after them. You'll see they'll lower their requirements a little bit so you don't have to have quite as much experience or quite as much education. They're going to raise the wages a little bit. You'll see a number of people doing that here today."

Valerie Ozaki, Four Seasons assistant director for human resources, tells KHON2 she sees the pool of candidates shrinking.

"What we're finding is although we can find candidates with a good heart, there isn't always maybe candidates specifically qualified for a particular job, so what we're finding is we're investing more time into our training of our people so that they can qualify for the jobs that we have," Ozaki explained. 

The fall fair also focuses on seasonal hires.

“September is when retail stores, hotels and restaurants need to staff up for the holidays, and it’s a great opportunity for job seekers to make some extra money for Christmas, and possibly stay on in a permanent position after the holidays," said Busch.

Here are some examples of open positions:

Hawaii Pacific Health is looking for high school graduates to fill 50 Patient Service Rep and Nurse Aide positions. Starting pay is $19-$20/hour. 

Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard has extended its Direct Hiring Authority mandate from critical to fill to all positions. This shortens the hiring time to only 60-90 days. They’ll also be have information for their Apprentice Program, which is not not part of the Direct Hiring Authority mandate. This program provides on-the-job training and employees will earn an Applied Trades Degree.

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