ELKINS - Hundreds of area residents looking to find employment or attempt a career change attended a job fair Friday afternoon at the McDonnell Center of Davis & Elkins College.
The job fair, sponsored by the Randolph County Development Authority and Davis & Elkins College, featured more than 60 area employers, some of whom offered interviews on the spot.
"I think it's been a great turnout. The employer turnout has been great, it has been on par with what we have had over the previous years," Randolph County Development Authority Executive Director Robbie Morris said. "We had people lined up waiting to get in this morning (Friday), which is something we've always had. I've gone around and talked to some employers and they are very happy with the turnout."
D&E Director of Career Services and Student Employment Lisa Reed said she felt the turnout was on par with previous job fairs held on the campus.
"The floor has a good flow with it so I think we are going to be right on par with what we have been in the last year. We always like to see the numbers up but at least we're meeting last year, I think," Reed said.
Morris said he was pleased with the number of employers at the event, which ranged from IBEX Global to Armstrong World Industries, along with a number of military recruiters.
"We typically have about 60 employers. We could fit more people in the gym but we want to make it a comfortable experience. It's not like a trade show, so to speak, where people just go through and pick up literature," Morris said. "There needs to be conversations that take place, some people do spot interviews right there so we don't want to cram people into the gym so 60 or so employers has been average for the three years we have done it so far."
Morris also noted more students appeared to be in attendance than there had been at previous job fairs.
"It looks like we have had more students than we've had in the past, which is great. That is one of the reasons we wanted to do it on the campus of Davis & Elkins College, so the seniors that are getting ready to graduate here in a month and a half or so have some great opportunities and keep those young people here in the area," Morris said. "Not only have we had college students and older but we have also had people, not just from Randolph County but from surrounding counties as well, which is very important for our labor force."
Reed said she felt holding the job fair on the school's campus was beneficial to both seniors and underclassmen.
"It is important on a couple different levels," Reed said. "For the seniors getting ready to graduate, obviously, there are job opportunities and if we can attract them to stay in this area, all the better but I really pushed this just as hard with the underclassmen, even our freshman, because for them it is just a chance to polish their skills."
Reed also said she has been working for years, including teaming up with the Randolph County Development Authority, to make events like this a reality for the students.
"Three years ago I decided, D&E is ready to get to having a job fair. We didn't have career services before so it's taken a couple years to get the mindset of students to be career prepared other than just in the classroom," Reed said. "Then I heard through the grapevine that the Development Authority was thinking of doing one too, so we chatted and said rather than competing with each other why don't we just work on this together."
Morris said the most important part of the job fair is to make sure that as many people as possible are able to find employment.
"The labor force, because of Corridor H and how close in proximity Elkins is to a lot of other major communities in the region, we pull from their work force and they pull from ours, so it's more of a regional concept than just our own specific county," Morris said. "We advertise in other counties and encourage others to come here.
"We don't have all Randolph County employers either, so that's the other thing is there are some people from outside of the area looking to pull employees from Randolph County who live here but work somewhere else and that's fine, as long as we can get everyone employed, that's the important part."