The opportunity is there for people who want to work to get well-paying jobs in Paris, according to Rob Goad, executive director of the Paris-Henry County Industrial Committee.
To illustrate that fact for the people in Henry County who need jobs, the industrial committee is hosting a job fair from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Paris Convention Center, 1510 E. Wood St.
At least 20 local employers will have booths at the job fair, ranging from industries to home health companies to retailers.
In addition, the Northwest Tennessee Workforce Board will be bringing a bus to the job fair. That motorized job center includes computer terminals where job seekers can look for openings across the state.
“It’s time for people to get back to work,” said Goad, who has been dealing with workforce issues here in recent months.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to federal programs being established in which unemployment compensation was increased. In Tennessee, those additional $300 benefits both state and federal claimants get through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program runs out the first week in July.
Also, a $100 benefit mixed earners receive through the federal Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation program continues through the first week in July as well.
Goad said that’s part of the reason the job fair was scheduled for a date in late June. People who will be losing unemployment funds will have the chance to see what jobs are out there right now.
PLENTY OF WORK AVAILABLE
Goad said the job fair’s purpose is also to give employers a chance to let people know there are jobs to be had.
Almost everyone in town has seen the “help wanted” signs at almost all the fast food restaurants here. But, did you know there are 130 jobs open in manufacturing in the county right now?
The blue collar jobs available now at local manufacturers include openings for welders, brake press operators, industrial maintenance personnel and assembly line workers.
“Some of these jobs are paying fifteen dollars an hour plus benefits. When you figure that all up, you’re looking at a forty-three thousand dollar a year job,” said Goad.
Goad said he has frequent conversations with employers here who say they have problems finding enough people to fill the jobs.
“You hear all the time ‘why don’t we get a new factory here so people can get jobs?’ Well, the truth is we can’t fill the jobs we have now,” Goad said.
An unreliable or unproductive workforce is one of the worst things to hear from employers, he said.
“I would rather hear that we have a supply chain issue, or anything else, than that our workforce is not strong enough,” he said.
People who truly want to work have some great training options, too. The Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Paris and in McKenzie offers training for technical jobs, and because of the state’s Tennessee Promise program, anyone who wants to go to a technology school or a junior college can go for free.
EMPLOYERS KEEP TABS
Goad said employers keep tabs on technical schools like TCAT, and that top students there are typically snapped up quickly.
“You can study to be an industrial maintenance technician in Henry County, have no work experience and still get hired at twenty-five dollars an hour,” he said. “I know there are pipefitters, plumbers, welders, who are all getting seventeen dollars an hour.
“And the industries have their fingers on the pulse of those schools. They know the top students that are there, and it helps the schools, too, because they want to be known as the school that provided good workers to that industry.”
The unemployment rate in Henry County was 5.6% in March, the latest figures available. The statewide rate for April has been announced as 5.0%.
An important part of Goad’s job, as well as that of his assistant director Tara Wilson, is to “show our local industries that we support them.”
“Some employers are prepared to do job interviews right there on the spot (at the job fair),” Wilson said. “Just show up, bring your resume if you have one, and take a look at the jobs available.”
The industrial committee is getting help setting up the job fair from Tennessee Valley Community Church. As a bit of extra motivation to get people to attend, there will be a drawing for a $500 cash prize.
“Just walk through the door, sign up and you’ll be eligible for the drawing,” Wilson said.
Other nearby counties have also been working with the Northwest Tennessee Workforce Board. Carroll and Weakley counties have had job fairs already this month.