Summer hiring fair successful

Sam Odrowski

Employers across the district are having a hard time filling entry-level positions.

To address this issue and lessen the gap ,a summer hiring fair was held at Fort High last Wednesday.

During the event employers accepted resumes, conducted on the spot interviews, and networked with students in hopes of filling vacant positions.

Northern Career Development Services (NCDS), Shoonyia Wa-Bittong, the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board, and public school board worked together to host hiring fair.

“We’re really pleased with how it went,” said Dana Bridgeman-Cross, of Shoonyia Wa-Bittong.

“We had 26 employers attend and . . . about eight of those employers were there for information and just telling students about potential future careers in different areas and fields,” she added.

Bridgeman-Cross noted that many of the employers who attended were targeting Grade 12 students who will be graduating in June to fill positions that only require an Ontario Secondary School Diploma.

“We had the Ministry of Corrections, New Gold, Community Living, and there was a couple others as well that were really geared towards those Grade 12 graduates,” she remarked.

In fact, the Ministry of Corrections will be returning to Fort High in a few weeks to speak further with the students who expressed interest.

The entire school participated with grades 9-12 being targeted for employment and the Grade 7s and 8s attending for informational purposes.

Bridgeman-Cross said the event is great for getting the students up to speed on what’s available in the region.

“We really thought it was important to have the employers target these students and let them know that they’re looking to [hire] because often kids won’t go do that on their own,” she reasoned.

“They are often times too nervous or scared and don’t advocate for themselves and don’t have those skill sets yet,” Bridgeman-Cross added.

“So having the employers there and waiting for them to meet with them and apply–it was a perfect connection from both perspectives.”

During the two weeks leading up to the event, Shooniya Wa-Biitong held six workshops at Fort High to help students with their resumes and applications.

Since late February, professionals from NCDS were also in the school every other Wednesday to meet with students and provide similar services, in addition to credit recovery and financial advice.

NCDS will continue to visit the school bi-weekly until the end of the semester and students can book appointments through the guidance office.

Meanwhile, the idea for the hiring fair came about during a resource meeting with a variety of agencies across the district.

They brainstormed and agreed that a summer hiring fair would be best for both students and employers in the area.

During the event, the 26 employers who participated were provided with packages containing resource sheets from the agencies who hosted the event.

Each organization offers similar services such as employment support, wage subsidies, pre-employment training, and supports for employees to purchase new shoes or clothing to help be successful in their role.

“We handed those out to the employers so they would know what’s actually offered and available too,” Bridgeman-Cross said.

One of the big draws during the hiring fair was Seven Generations New Gold Simulator Training Trailer.

Students had the opportunity to use the simulator to get a better understanding of what it’s like to work some of the available positions at the mine.

“There was 30 kids in that trailer every time I went out there and looked. It was a real hit,” Bridgeman-Cross recalled.

She said overall it was a really successful event and the organizations that hosted it hope to make it annual going forward.

“We’re really hoping this is going to be our first of many,” Bridgeman Cross enthused. “We want to make it bigger and better for next year.”

“We recognize the need for it and we think it was a good fit,” she added.