One Thousand Job Seekers Attend Congressman Garamendi’s Job Fair, Veterans Hiring Program Unveiled
FAIRFIELD, CA – Reflecting the continued struggles of far too many Americans in search of work, the Solano County Job Fair and Jobs Boot Camp hosted today by Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) was exceedingly well-attended. 971 jobseekers, including 146 veterans, talked with more than 50 employers, labor unions, and job skills organizations and two dozen resume counselors. Participation at the event exceeded all expectations, with some jobseekers waiting in line for more than an hour due to overwhelming interest. At least ten veterans found a job thanks to today’s Job Fair.
Responding to Northern California’s substantial unemployment rate among veterans, Congressman Garamendi’s Jobs Task Force was also in attendance to debut the “Just Hire One” Veterans Initiative, which asks local employers to “pledge” to hire at least one veteran over the next six months.
“When close to a thousand people are waiting in the cold looking for an opportunity – just a chance at a job – we know we have a problem,” Congressman Garamendi said. “On the one hand, I’m thrilled we were able to make a difference for so many people. On the other hand, it’s sad this event was so well-attended, especially during the holidays.”
While today’s job report showed significant gains, the unemployment rate is still at an elevated 7% rate; too many jobs don’t pay a living wage; and the recovery remains far too slow for too many families.
“Congress has a responsibility to get people back to work. That’s especially true for our veterans who have already given so much to our country,” Garamendi added. “When I return to Washington, I’m going to show my colleagues the photos from this event and relay some of the stories I heard today. I met veterans, parents, and highly motivated people who just want a shot. They’re not unemployed because they lack the skills or commitment. They’re unemployed because the jobs just aren’t available and because too many of our leaders have failed to act. It’s time for America to invest in jobs – like infrastructure, research, education, and manufacturing.”
Job Fair and Jobs Boot Camp
At the Jobs Boot Camp, participants engaged in an hour long intensive session that included resume advice, strategies to present oneself, and practice in giving a 30-second pitch on one’s qualifications. Participants also broke up into four groups to learn more about opportunities available in law enforcement, government, and construction, as well as starting a small business.
At the Job Fair, employers filled the room to capacity, with opportunities in construction, installation, retail, clerical services, law enforcement, the military, health care, banking, and much more. Labor unions were available to let people know about apprenticeship opportunities. Some opportunities were specifically geared toward the region’s large veteran community.
“Just Hire One” Initiative
During a presentation on the “Just Hire One” campaign by the Congressman’s Jobs Task Force, it was announced that more than 30 employers have already made the pledge to hire at least one veteran.
“’Just Hire One’ is about serving those who have served us,” said Meredith Niles, Director of the “Just Hire One” Initiative. “In the 3rd District, nearly 30% of our veterans are without jobs. We must act as a community to reverse this trend.”
“If you’re a veteran, you have skills people in this room want. Take advantage of it,” said Robert Bloom, Executive Director of the Workforce Investment Board of Solano County.
“’Helmets to Hardhats has been around for ten years helping veterans transition into partnership programs with building and construction trade unions,” said Bill Mulcrone, Trade Director for Helmets to Hardhats. “We’re happy to be here connecting Northern California veterans with good job opportunities.”
Covered California, the state’s insurance exchange created under the Affordable Care Act, was also in attendance at the event, helping job seekers see what kind of insurance they qualify for. More than 150 people spoke with Covered California to determine their options, 25 of whom scheduled appointments to enroll in the state exchange and another 20 scheduled appointments to enroll in Medi-Cal/Medicaid.
“A lot of people are excited to finally get insurance,” said Keirsha Baron, Health Access Specialist with the Solano Coalition for Better Health. “We spoke to people with pre-existing conditions who previously didn’t qualify for insurance but do now. We also spoke to people ecstatic to now qualify for Medi-Cal thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Lots of people have questions, and they were happy to have in-person assistance.”
Baron encourages any Solano County resident with questions about their options under Covered California or Medi-Cal to call 800-978-7547.