On Thursday, the city of Milwaukee Office of Workforce Development held three drive-thru — or walk-up — job fairs in which individuals looking for work could find employment opportunities as well as where they could go for job training and other resources.
This is the second year the city has partnered with local organizations to bring job opportunities to those who need them in a convenient format.
The information packets given to potential workers included job openings in manufacturing, office, health care, retail and transportation/logistics.
“We are hoping that they find that this is a helpful resource,” said Jason Thompson, workforce outreach specialist with City Clerk’s office. “There are employers here still looking to fill their labor supply. There’s opportunities for you to get into job training. There’s opportunities for you to get into internships. There’s opportunities for you to reinvent yourself and change careers.”
Thompson said the city is planning on organizing more drive-thru job fairs in August, September and October.
Thompson said the city hopes it can provide these resources to people after the pandemic rocked many different industries.
“A lot of people may feel discouraged,” Thompson said. “We all know there were a lot of people that were unfortunately laid off from jobs due to the pandemic… and there’s some amazing resources in the city that are specifically for individuals who may have been laid off from employment and are looking to maybe get into another industry.”
Ricardo Villegas was one of those people who were laid off from their job in 2020.
Villegas said he worked for Lowlands Group doing restaurant maintenance.
“Due to COVID, I lost my job, I was out for a year and I needed to get back into the workforce,” Villegas said.
Villegas drove to the basilica location on Thursday.
“It’s so convenient,” Villegas said.
Although he has a job with doing restaurant maintenance with a different company, Villegas is keeping his options open.
“I don’t like to be complacent and I like to see what’s out there but I’m not a job hopper, either,” Villegas said. “But if I find somewhere, where I feel good about it and I’m comfortable and it’s home, I’ll stay with a good rate of pay.”
Maria Lowery is in the first week of an eight-week training course at Employ Milwaukee called BankWork$. She walked up to the job fair at the Employ Milwaukee site hoping to find some banks that would hire her when she completes the program.
Lowery is recovering from foot surgery but has been looking for a job since February.
“I’m trying to put myself out there and do whatever I can to get back on top of things,” Lowery said.
Lowery added the job fair provides some peace of mind for those unsure about being in close contact with others while looking for employment.
“A lot of people are still nervous, due to COVID and they don’t want to get out of their cars but they’re able to still be a part of the job fair,” Lowery said.
Jose Galvan, manager of business solutions at Employ Milwaukee, said although the pandemic did have some positive impacts in people using technology to work remotely, that effect wasn’t universal.
“The bad thing about it is a lot of individuals in a lot of the hard to reach communities, most impacted communities, don’t have reliable internet access or a reliable computer and they’re trying to do everything on a smartphone,” Galvan said.
Galvan was encouraging people to continue looking for employment.
“There are opportunities out there,” Galvan said. “We ask that they don’t lose hope. … We have employers that are more willing than ever to work with them.”