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Job fair draws hundreds

Date: 1/24/2012

Jan. 25, 2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

HOLYOKE — David Gadaire, executive director of CareerPoint, said the turnout for a job fair last week was beyond his expectations.

“Wall to wall people” was the way he described the job fair, which he added he hopes to make an annual event. Midway in the three-hour fair, he estimated that between 500 and 700 people had come to apply for work from the 27 employers represented there.

The benches in the hallways outside of the auditorium at the War Memorial were filled with people filling out applications. Inside the auditorium, the tables set up for the employers were blocked from view by people asking questions.

Gadaire said the job fair was in the planning stages when Mayor Alex Morse asked if it could be presented in a downtown venue to assist people who might find transportation to another area difficult.

He said there were 51 different job categories and between 150 and 200 actual positions being offered. He called the jobs a “cross section” as there were management positions in the mix as well as entry-level employment.

“It’s symbolic of the normal workforce,” he said.

The response from the employers shows “a subtle change ... they are a little less cautious,” he added. “I don’t think they expected this kind of crowd.”

The people applying at the fair cut across age and ethnic lines. Young people in jeans and older adults in suits with copies of their resumes walked from one table to another.

Among the employers at the fair were National Ambulance, Holyoke Chicopee Springfield Head Start, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Reliable Temp Inc., Yankee Candle, Victoria’s Secret, Avon, Baystate Health Systems, Comcast and First Student.

Gadaire said he hoped one outcome of the event was that the people who came for it would come to CareerPoint for its educational and job search programs.

Shana Salerno, human resource coordinator for Yankee Candle, said that her table “had definitely been very busy.”

She said the company was looking for some corporate positions right now, but she was gathering names and other information for the company’s spring hiring of positions in logistics, manufacturing and customer service.

She added it was interesting to learn what kind of jobs people were seeking.

Gadaire said that about 100 people had come up to him to say thank you for organizing the job fair.

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