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Thursday, 12 February 2015 05:47

Job fair takes on special significance with state of economy

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Alberta’s economy is in a state of flux as petroleum prices slide, the dollar weakens and layoffs are taking place in various sectors.

While there is a lot of uncertainty and sometimes change isn’t desired, one has to look at it with a “when one door closes, another door opens” attitude.
This is the attitude of Shelly Drefs, career services assistant at the Medicine Hat College (MHC).
There are a lot of opportunities and people just have to figure out how to find them. Hence, the timing is good as MHC is hosting its annual winter Job Fair Feb. 25 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in the Centennial Hall and the B Wing Hallway.
Drefs says the college has been getting a lot of phone calls about the job fair, both from exhibitors and people who are curious about what the job fair has to offer.
“People just don’t know the services out there available to them. We can offer career advice, job searches or offer financial solutions, just be supportive,” explains Drefs.
“There are two types of calls we’re getting. Some people are just overwhelmed right now and don’t know where to start. Another is that they’ve lost a job and they’re trying to find a job and are finding what supports are out there for them. We just want to show (that) these are the services and we’re just here to alleviate concerns.”
As of Feb. 9, there were 50 committed exhibitors ranging from AgeCare Communities of Care and Wellness to YMCA Employment Centre. Drefs says it’s impressive considering they lost some long-time exhibitors due to the companies having hiring freezes or laying off people.
The job fair has a solid reputation and many new businesses and organizations have jumped on board and want to be  part of it.
“The 50 is up from last year. A lot of regulars backed out but I think it’s a lot of people are seeing this as a viable way of finding new employment,” explains Drefs. “(There are) so many good connections out there and many aren’t connecting with them. This venue is a way to get together ... I’m surprised though we exceeded as much as we did considering all of the lay offs out there and those who pulled out (because of the economy).
“It’s relatively inexpensive and it’s opening doors for people.”
A welcome new addition to this year’s job fair is a noon-hour session consisting of employment agencies including Alberta Works, Being Human Services, Saamis Aboriginal Employment and Training Services.They will be on hand to hold a seminar to help people who have lost their jobs or are on the hunt for new employment. Those people can then sign up for a free session/workshop that will help them find a new direction as far as employment and or get them on a new path for more educating.
“There are avenues to help everyone.This is the time people should be coming and checking what is available,” explains Drefs. “It gives you an opportunity to spread out (your horizons and comfort levels).”
Drefs said last year about 1,000 people came walking through the winter job fair. She says there could be far more this year.
She’s excited for the opportunity to help connect people within southeast Alberta, but also to act as a solid community partner and making sure it’s open to everyone who wants to participate. While it does help promote the institution as well, it isn’t the only reason for hosting the event.
“We want to make sure we’re supporting the community and the region as a partner and leader,” explains Drefs. “This is definitely more regional than the career fair (in the fall) as a lot of the exhibitors are serving within the area.”

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor