WorkSource Oregon conducted a unique way to connect employers with perspective employees during a drive-through hiring event in the parking lot of the Foursquare Church in St. Helens from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Sept. 15.
WorkSource, a division of The Oregon Employment Department, partnered with several local businesses and agencies to hold the event, which included representatives stationed at the drive-through to speak with those looking for work. Other businesses and agencies were listed on sheets handed to individuals seeking employment so that they might set up an appointment to visit with the prospective employer.
“Some of the employers are too short staffed to be here, so we can send job seekers to them allowing them a chance to set appointments with the perspective employee,” WorkSource Business Services Representative Kelly Dowell said. “We have 42 employers participating. Employers desperately need employees and we have job seekers looking for work so we are trying to make that connection between the two.”
Dowell said the lack of workers challenge for local businesses was evident even before the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the region 18 months ago.
“We have more jobs than we have people at this point,” she said.
The impact of fewer workers can be seen throughout St. Helens, according to Dowell.
“We have some restaurants closing early and not fully open on specific days just because they don’t have the staff or the staff they have is so small they are getting burned out because they have a lot of hours,” she said. “It is an issue seen across the board. Every single industry that we work with is represented at this job fair, including health care, manufacturing, retail, hospitality, food industry, you name it. Every single employer is grappling right now with a lack of job applicants.”
Dowell said the impact of not enough workers affects customers seeking goods and services, which could include slower business responses.
One job seeker at the drive-through event who offered only a first name, said she was encouraged by the employment options at the event.
“I am looking for office work and a position of greeting people to broaden my experience,” Gina said. “They have the school district here and other services that are interesting to me.”
Signal of hope
After interviewing several businesses over the past month, Dowell said there is some encouragement.
“We have been out doing employer site visits and talking to 100 employers in person and just in the last week we are staring to hear from some that they are fully staffed and they don’t need to be a part of the hiring effort right now and that is good news,” she said. “We are happy if you can’t participate because you have the help that you need, but we let them know that we are here if they need us.”
An additional hiring event is scheduled in Scappoose Oct. 6 at the Goodwill parking lot, 51651 S.E. 2nd Street in collaboration with Keep It Local Columbia County and Scappoose Job Connections and such events will be conducted Oct. 20 in Vernonia, Clatskanie and Rainier. Special sites for the north county hiring driver-throughs are pending.
For more information, contact WorkSource Oregon at 503-378-2199.