EMPLOYMENT Job forum focuses on minorities

Job seekers want to get in on the ground floor of a career opportunity.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Bayan Muhammad and Daronn Scott are young city men interested in steady, career-oriented construction jobs.
They want to work on the $172 million city schools construction and renovation project, which will begin this summer and continue for six to seven years. The prospect of such an opportunity brought them to a community jobs and business forum Wednesday evening at McGuffey Centre, which focused on minority and female participation in the project.
"I need a better job," said Muhammad, 22, of Oak Lane, a 1997 East High School graduate, who has worked in laborer positions. "I'm young and I've got a lot of energy to do something like that," he said of construction work.
"It's an opportunity for me to start a career," said Scott, 26, of East Judson Avenue, a 1995 Woodrow Wilson High School graduate, who has carpentry experience and has worked in various temporary positions, including warehouse labor.
"It's not an easy job, but it's a fulfilling job, and you'll find that most journeymen will make more than some college graduates. It's a good profession, and it pays well and has good benefits," Harry Evans, the school board's chief of maintenance and operations, said of construction work.
Sponsors: The forum was sponsored by the Youngstown Area Urban League, the Youngstown Area Development Corp., the Youngstown Chapter of the NAACP, Associated Neighborhood Centers and Organizacion Civica y Cultural Hispana Americana. Another forum will be at 6:30 p.m. March 5 at McGuffey Centre, 1649 Jacobs Road.
About 120 people attended the forum, including job seekers, officials from the sponsoring organizations, community leaders, school officials and members of the board of education and city council.
Job seekers were urged to fill out questionnaires to be maintained by the Urban League concerning their job interests, apprenticeship training, if any, and any barriers to employment they believe they must overcome.
Presentations: The program included presentations by officials of the Ohio Department of Development and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and by a compliance officer from the Cleveland-Cuyahoga Port Authority, which faced minority inclusion issues similar to those of the Youngstown schools project.
The school board has adopted a resolution calling for 20 percent minority and female participation and 50 percent school district resident participation among workers on the project, said Ronald Miller, Urban League president.
Program sponsors noted that the project is funded in part by a bond issue passed by the school district's voters, that more than 70 percent of the city schools' students come from minority groups, and that the unemployment rate in the minority community is more than double that of the rest of the population.

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