Employers at local fair encourage job seekers to beat the rush

David Wilson, Appeal-Democrat, Marysville, Calif.
·5 min read

Apr. 9—Live Oak resident Damian Wagner is a college student taking classes online. He went from table to table with Micah Henry, of Live Oak, at the Yuba-Sutter Job Fair on Thursday. Henry said he has a job but was there to support Wagner in his search. After stopping at a few tables, Wagner said nothing had piqued his interest, but that he isn't picky about a new job.

"We're just looking around seeing what's available, nothing specific really," Wagner said. "I had a job but got laid off because of COVID so I'm just looking around seeing what's available."

The Yuba-Sutter Chamber of Commerce hosted the fair at the Feather River Academy in Yuba City. Employers set up at tables around the perimeter of Boyd Hall. Chamber CEO Marni Sanders said while she was hoping for more job seekers to attend the turnout was better than expected.

"I'm hoping that being able to host an event live and in person will really help people to get reenergized," Sanders said. "...Now's the time to get into a job while there's not a lot of competition."

Due to people out of work receiving unemployment benefits and stimulus checks, local employers have been having trouble finding people to fill positions, according to Sanders.

"They all are expressing the same frustration over the jobs that they have open, and they just don't have people looking for jobs," Sanders said of the employers at the fair. "Unemployment right now still looks like the better deal for a lot of people."

Jessie Kaur, of Marysville, heard about the fair online and saw there were good employers who would be there. Kaur did not lose her job during the pandemic but is looking for a new job. She heard from friends that lost jobs in the last year because of companies closing or moving out of the area.

"I wanted to sign up and see if I can get into a good job," Kaur said.

Some of the employers that participated included Aflac, Comfort Keepers, New York Life, The Plus Group, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain, Bridgeview Post Acute, along with military recruiters.

Sacramento State senior accounting students Simran Grewal and Rajvir Kaur stopped at the Bridgeview Post Acute table during their trip around the hall.

"We go to Sac State right now and we're looking for a full-time position or part-time in the accounting field," Grewal said.

Grewal and Kaur will finish school this coming August.

"They provided us really good information," Grewal said of the fair.

Bridgeview's Director of Staff Development Shelby Murphy said their table saw a good turnout on Thursday.

"I think the pandemic has affected everybody as far as staffing goes," Bridgeview Patient Care Coordinator Sonja Thomas said. "So it's been really hard especially when it first started as far as the fear factor of the pandemic and then all kinds of free money flowing out there — people want to just stay home."

Thomas said Bridgeview is working to get more "fresh faces" into their building, which has remained open throughout the pandemic. It is offering free certified nursing assistant classes, according to Thomas.

Jake Peterson, human resources director with Hard Rock, said the company will be expanding the hotel at the Wheatland location as well as installing a gas station.

"So we need more positions, we need more jobs, we need more people," Petersen said.

He said Hard Rock is looking to fill a variety of positions such as food and beverage supervisor, beverage servers, pool attendants, clerks and bartenders.

"Those people are going to need a certain level of experience but most of the jobs are a lot more attainable for more people that are available now," Petersen said.

Hard Rock had to furlough workers during the pandemic while the casino was forced to close.

"The pandemic has hurt us in more ways than one," Petersen said. "...Right now, we're actually seeing a steady increase in applicants, people searching for jobs and I think it's just going to keep getting more and more as time goes on."

Aflac Regional Sales Coordinator Andy Glenn said Aflac is hoping to expand its Yuba City office to be ready for when the state's economy fully opens up this summer. However, he said he was disappointed with a slow day of job seekers coming through.

"Unfortunately, this is kind of reminiscent of what we've experienced lately," Glenn said. "People don't want to work."

District Sales Coordinator Edward Han runs the Yuba City office and said there are more jobs than people to take the jobs. He said this is due to people having enough cash to get by during the pandemic.

"Unfortunately, it's going to be a mad rush to get jobs once the stimulus runs out," Han said. "Those that are already in positions are going to wind up faring better than those that are trying to get a job when the rush is on. I like the idea of getting started now."

Han said Aflac, unlike other insurance companies will hire someone without previous insurance experience and train them — as long as they have the right qualities.

"It's slow enough, I'm just about ready to go hire all these recruiters," Han said.

Sutter County District 2 Supervisor Dan Flores was at the fair as president of Cambridge Junior College, which specializes in training medical assistants.

He said there will be a 25 percent growth in medical assistant jobs in the county over the next five years, which means a shortage of students to train. The goal of attending the fair was to find people interested in training to become medical assistants. Flores said the fair is a good first step in getting back to normal.

"This is good for us to get the foundation and get poised for the economic comeback — we're well poised for that in Sutter County but now we have to make sure we have the workforce behind us to do it," Flores said.

Having an event live and in person was a welcome change for Flores.

"A lot of things went virtual during COVID but not everything can go virtual and there's a lot of jobs that are still going to be out there, that are still out there now ... Those are not virtual positions, those are live positions," Flores said.