Workforce Development Program focused on empowering U.S. Veterans
Over 800 job seekers attend job fair and "Jobs Boot Camp" with over 40 employers, with an emphasis on veterans.
By Barry Eberling
The Daily Republic
FAIRFIELD — Air Force veteran Stephanie Fullerton didn’t find a job at Friday’s Solano Job Fair, but still left with a sense of accomplishment. The Dixon resident worked at David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base as a laboratory technician for 11 years. Her military career ended in 1999. Now she wants to get a job in health care management.
As part of the fair, she attended a one-hour “jobs boot camp” that focused on veterans.
“They reviewed my resume, which was wonderful,” Fullerton said. “And they gave me some really good tips.”
Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, used the Solano Job Fair as an occasion to unveil his new veterans program, Just Hire One. He’s asking employers that need workers to pledge to hire one veteran in coming months.
Veterans transitioning to the civilian workforce have skill sets for jobs, but might face barriers, he said. For example, he said, a medic in the military has the same skill set as a paramedic, but faces licensing and jargon differences. Veterans in the military police have skills that would transfer to a sheriff’s department or the border police job, he said.
The Solano County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Customs and Borders Protection had booths at the job fair.
About 1,000 people came to the Solano Events Center looking for jobs between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Both veterans and nonveterans were welcome.
Inside, they could talk with about 40 prospective employers that ranged from Six Flags Discovery Kingdom to Travis Credit Union to Verizon Wireless to the Vallejo Police Department.
Garamendi hosted the event, working with local sponsors such as the Workforce Investment Board of Solano County and Fairfield-Suisun Chamber of Commerce. He walked out of the Events Center to talk to people in the line.
“I’m really surprised,” Garamendi said when he saw the length of the line. “It’s a long as 100 yards. And they’re standing in the cold. They want to go to work.”
Job seekers stood outside in temperatures in the low 40s, waiting for a chance to enter the Events Center. Inside, a main conference room was packed with people.
“There’s not only hope in this room, there’s opportunity,” Workforce Investment Board Executive Director Robert Bloom told the crowd. “Every employer in this room has current opportunities. They are hiring.”
Garamendi also used a microphone to address the job seekers.
“For all of you who are looking for a job – stay with it,” Garamendi said. “There are employers here and there will be opportunities beyond today.” Solano County’s unemployment rate for August and September – the latest data available – fell to 7.7 percent. The rate also hit 7.7 percent in May before a slight rise. That’s the lowest rate for the county since October 2008 and far below the 12.4 percent in March 2010. But Evan Johnson of Fairfield isn’t seeing relief yet. He came to the fair looking for a job, any kind of job with benefits.
“I think it’s kind of slow right now,” said Johnson, who dressed in a suit. “There’s not as many jobs as there needs to be right now.” Kristina Daniels recently moved from Utah to Suisun City. She had a good job in Utah, wants to work in a laboratory and is finding the local job market tough. Daniels said she tried to find a cashier job for the holidays, but couldn’t.
The Workforce Investment Board of Solano County usually offers two jobs fair annually, but canceled its fall fair this year because of financial reasons. Then, two months ago, Garamendi contacted the agency about helping with his jobs fair. Next year, the Workforce Investment Board will again have a spring and fall jobs fair, Bloom said.
Job seekers can also get help from the Workforce Investment Board year-round, he said. Please go to www.solanowib.org for more information.
The Solano Job Fair was put on by Garamendi’s Jobs Task Force, the Workforce Investment Board of Solano County, American Service Project, Employment Development Department, Fairfield-Suisun Chamber of Commerce, Helmets to Hardhats, Small Business Development Center, Solano/Yolo Veterans Employment Committee and Solano County Veterans Service Office.