Henrico reflects on “disappointing” turnout from recent job fair, hopes for better turnout Saturday

Henrico County

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — With numerous businesses through the region advertising for employees, Henrico is hosting a second drive-thru job fair this Saturday. But organizers hope for more turnout than they had at a previous job-fair event.

“You can’t go to a restaurant or anywhere without seeing the impacts of the hiring crunch,” said Brian Davis, Director of the Capital Region Workforce Partnership. “It was disappointing on the job-seekers side. We had a good number of employers there and for whatever reason, whether we picked the wrong day or the wrong time of day, we just didn’t see a volume that we were expecting. Sadly, the employers were not surprised.”

According to Davis, there are 33,000 job openings in the eight jurisdictions around the City of Richmond. He said the number of people on active unemployment currently is 23,000.

The job fair had employers from all kinds of jobs and skill levels, including hospitals, local government, school divisions, retail, restaurant and hospitality. The majority of the jobs at the fair required a high school diploma and were not college-degree dependent.

“A lot of the vendors that are coming to our job fair are at or higher than $15 and hour,” Davis said.

He said he understands why there are some people who are choosing to remain on unemployment — whether it is the benefits of receiving enhanced unemployment, lingering health concerns surrounding COVID-19, childcare needs during the summer or transportation issues.

“As we go into summer, I think people are reevaluating what kind of job they want, and maybe they don’t want to go back to the kind of job they had before,” Davis said. “People may be thinking the benefits have been extended three times in the past and they may get extended again. We encourage people to think proactively about what they want their next chapter to look like. September is coming very fast.”

Davis said the county is still hopeful about Saturday’s job fair and encourages anyone on active unemployment to strongly consider taking the time to at least check it out.

Monica Smith-Callahan, Henrico’s Deputy County Manager, said getting people back to work is critical for economic rebirth after a pandemic year.

“It is so important for the economic vitality of the county that our businesses have qualified employees,” Smith-Callahan said. “Now that the restrictions are being lifted and more people are vaccinated, getting back to work is a natural step to our return to a sense of normalcy.”

She added the extra monetary benefits people were able to receive during the last year were for temporary relief, and now it is time to get back to normal.

“The subsidy and stimulus assistance has been a huge help to our citizens, but those subsidies were not meant to last forever and will be coming to an end in the near future,” she said. We want our citizens who are receiving unemployment benefits to come out to the job fair to learn about the employment opportunities available. We hope the job fair will be a ‘win/win’ for both the job-seekers and the businesses alike.”

The fair will feature companies like Richmond Print Group, Allianz Partners, SimpliSafe, Waffle House, Henrico Fire and more.

The job fair is scheduled for Saturday, June 26, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Henrico Government Center on 4301 E. Parham Rd. You can find more information online here or by calling 804-652-3220.

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