Thursday's job fair aims to recruit veterans

They will have access to nearly 40 employers, WorkSource database

By Courtney Sherwood, Columbian freelance writer

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Close to 40 employers looking to hire a few good veterans will be in Vancouver on Thursday. And former armed forces personnel also will be able to tap into the state WorkSource program’s database, which lists more than 500 openings across Clark County.

The veteran’s job fair, sponsored by Vancouver WorkSource and hosted by the Washington Army National Guard, is one of dozens of similar events scheduled this month across the U.S. after a number of governors — including Washington’s — declared November “Hire-a-Vet Month.”

Thursday’s job fair runs 9 a.m. to noon at the Armed Forces Reserve Center, 15005 N.E. 65th Ave., Vancouver.

Among the employers that have signed on to recruit are Bonneville Power Administration, Home Depot, PeaceHealth, WaferTech, several staffing agencies, and a few municipal governments from Washington and Oregon. Their openings run the gamut from entry-level positions to jobs requiring high levels of skill and preparation.

Job fairs have received some criticism in recent months, spurred in part by a survey of human resources executives who reported that few of the people who show up at these events have the specific skills they’re seeking. A month after 1,700 job seekers attended a fair sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, only about 30 of those people had found jobs, the congresswoman’s office reported in October.

But Rick Van Cise, WorkSource spokesman, said he’s optimistic that Thursday’s event will have good results.

Veterans are strong applicants and attractive to many employers, Van Cise said. “They bring teamwork, discipline, they show up on time.”

Many struggle with translating their military skills into civilian terms, but WorkSource offers classes and other outreach efforts aimed at helping veterans communicate about their experiences, he said.

Van Cise also said that WorkSource’s job database will allow veterans to search hundreds of jobs during the fair, not just those offered by employers who attend.

An estimated 240,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are unemployed nationwide, according to an October report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Last week, the U.S. Senate voted 95-0 to approve legislation aimed at helping unemployed veterans get back to work; that measure is now before the House of Representatives.