‘Take home’ job fair is creative way to help connect employers with employees

About 500 jobs need to be filled in the healthcare and manufacturing fields in Boyle County, and the pandemic has made finding employees difficult. The local library, chamber of commerce, and economic development partnership put their heads together and developed a unique job fair.

On Friday and Saturday, March 5 and 6, there will be a “take-home” job fair directed toward the healthcare industry. Future take-home job fairs will include manufacturing and other fields said Boyle County Chamber of Commerce Director Jeff Jewel.

In an email sent to area healthcare providers in the chamber’s database Jewel wrote, “We are going to attempt a brand new type of job fair based on an idea that has met with success in several library systems on the west coast. We are dubbing it our “Takeaway Healthcare Job Fair”.

He added, “It’s a new idea that Caleb Conover from the library shared with me and we decided to share with the Workforce Development Committee (with the Economic Development Partnership) as we thought it was worth a shot. The committee agreed,” Jewel said.

Information will include locally available jobs and training opportunities in the healthcare field, along with assistance opportunities for those with limited internet/computer access in completing online applications and will be distributed at various locations, including the Boyle County Public Library, Jewel explained.

Employers will also include how to apply for their job openings. Participating employers are Ephraim McDowell Health, Walker’s Trail Senior Living, Select Specialty Hospital, and Morning Pointe Senior Living.

The job fair is being promoted in Boyle County with locations in Danville, Perryville, and Junction City, Jewel said. And as of Feb. 22, the locations to pick up the information will be the Boyle County Public Library and Goodwill Industries in Danville and the Salted Honey Cafe in Perryville.

Kathy Miles, coordinator of the Boyle County Agency for Substance Abuse Program and EDP board member said the take-home job fair, “will be beneficial to those who have a criminal record. We are still finalizing the employers, so I don’t know specifically if the ones participating accept certain kinds of records, or none at all. But, even if the employers for this health care job fair don’t hire people with criminal records, the education/training info that will be part of it, such as Bluegrass Community Technical College’s program info, will be beneficial to them.”

“In addition, there will be info in every bag on resources for mental health/substance use disorder treatment and support,” Miles said.

“Helping people be successfully employed should be everybody’s interest.  We are living in a time when every method of promotion and communication really needs to be utilized, to reach the many ways that area folks learn about employment and educational opportunities,” Miles added.

Conover said, he found the take-home job fair idea on the website of the American Library Association’s Public Programs Office.

He explained that since the library has had success in other take-home kit programs for library patrons of all ages, “I thought this might have merit for job seekers and employers in our community. This first kit program is focused on the healthcare industry as a pilot test, and hopefully, it can be expanded further, if we discover that the model works for both our local job seekers and employers.”

Conover said the library “provides access to public computers and WiFi at no charge – something that is becoming increasingly essential when searching for jobs – not to mention many training resources like Lynda.com and Kentucky Virtual Library’s subscription to LearningExpress.

“Public libraries exist to serve their entire community – including employers and prospective employees – as information professionals. Part of our library’s mission and vision is to operate, ‘…as a hub for the exchange of information and the provision of programs and services that enhance the quality of life in our community.’ With that in mind, we’re helping to disseminate information in a safe way, about both training and job opportunities available in our community.”

Jody Lassiter, CEO for the EDP said the partnership with the library and chamber is a “creative response” to the pandemic when it comes to finding employees for local employers. Earlier in the pandemic, the EDP held drive-through job fairs,

“We’ve done Curbside Careers with a drive-through, so this is Carry-out Careers.”