State Labor commissioner: Skilled labor more crucial as job pool shrinks
PLATTSBURGH — New York State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon relishes a win-win sort of success story.
“Some of my favorite parts of our mission are connecting job seekers with jobs and helping businesses find the skilled workforce they need,” she said.
In Plattsburgh on Friday — the fourth stop of 10 on her statewide Recruitment Day tour — Reardon visited a job fair held at the Development Corp., with 12 local employers on hand seeking to fill abut 75 jobs.
The point of the tour? To promote the hiring of local workers.
It also presents a good opportunity to show people the Department of Labor is available to help them find a job or develop skills to advance to a better job.
And it can also help connect employers with the workers who possess the skills required to fill those jobs.
The Labor Department’s assistance is available online or at OneWorkSource career centers. Locally, they are found in Plattsburgh, Malone, Elizabethtown and Saranac Lake.
“One thing people don’t realize is that all of our services at our career centers, whether for businesses or workers, are entirely free,” Reardon said.
Anyone can visit a center and sit down with a career counselor to discuss what he or she is looking for, then help that person input a profile in the department’s career portal. They can also help with polishing up a resume, developing interview skills or other ways to help land a job.
The Department of Labor staff is also available to meet with employers, either at the center or their place of business, to learn what positions they are looking to fill and what it takes to land one of those jobs.
“We want to make sure we send them good, strong applicants,” she said.
That is becoming more critical as the unemployment rate drops and the pool of workers diminishes, Reardon said.
Another company at the job fair was Northern Culinary Brands, a manufactured food co-packer located right next to the Development Corp. offices.
At Northern Culinary, employees cook protein, such as chicken, beef, seafood or lamb, and then mix it into packaged meals per their clients’ instructions.
The firm launched in 2014 and has had significant growth, with contracts with brands such as Con Agra, Goya and Saffron Road. They now have about 70 employees and are always accepting applications.
“Our payroll has doubled in the last year,” Accounting and Human Resources Manager Tracy Garrow said.
The firm is looking to fill some spots on their meal-assembly line, as well as a few supervisory and sanitation department jobs.
Another at the job fair was SterRx, a sterile-drug manufacturer whose automated blow-fill-seal machines create packaging from plastic resin and fill each unit within the sterile environment of the machine, eliminating the potential for contamination.
Human Resources Manager Tara Gonyo said events like this help get the company name out in front of potential employees.
In just a few years, they have grown to just over 50 workers on Idaho Avenue in Plattsburgh.
Gonyo said they were only looking to fill one immediate opening, but she brought information on four other positions that are likely to be available in the near future.
“We are hoping to gain some resumes for those as well,” she said.
The firm has a good working relationship with the State Department of Labor that has helped them find candidates with the skills needed for their specialized jobs, Gonyo said.
She had gathered about 10 resumes within a half-hour, which she said is good for a job fair type of event.
“It’s a good turnout so far,” Gonyo said. “There have been some very good candidates.”
The Development Corporation Economic Planner Victoria Zinser Duley said they were pleased to host the event in conjunction with the Department of Labor.
“We’re thrilled but not surprised there was such a strong turnout by our (local) companies here today,” she said.
A qualified workforce is and continues to be a concern for economic development in the region, she said, and as the unemployment rate drops, many are competing for an ever-shrinking pool of qualified employees.
The job fair format presents an exciting opportunity for companies to meet potential employees in a short amount of time, Zinser Duley said.
“I’m hopeful this was really a successful day for them.”
Reardon said if job candidates didn’t land a position Friday, they should visit the career counselors at OneWorkSource and get their information in the system, as there are still hundreds of thousands of jobs listed there.
“It’s a way to plan your future.”
Email Dan Heath:
STATE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
The department’s assistance is available online at labor.ny.gov or at local OneWorkSource career centers.
In the tri-county area, that includes 194 U.S. Oval in Plattsburgh, 158 Finney Boulevard in Malone, 103 Hand Ave. in Elizabethtown and the Saranac Lake Career Center at 72 Woodruff St.
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