By Burton Speakman
Some crowd members had to stand outside Monday to fill out applications as 75 to 100 people came to the Mahoning County One-Stop for two recruitment events.
Staff Right was looking for pipefitters, drivers with a commercial driver’s license or general labor for the oil and gas industry, and Macy’s was searching for general warehouse employees.
This is one of the bigger days for the recruitment events, said Carol Loomis, manager at the One-Stop center.
“We had eight people waiting outside when the doors opened,” she said.
Russell Cottrill of Canfield was in the room waiting for an interview with Staff Right. He had arrived at the One-Stop more than 90 minutes earlier.
The oil and gas jobs had drawn him to the event, but he would consider any work, he said.
“I’ve done construction for the railroad, drywall, construction. There’s nothing that I can’t learn,” Cottrill said.
After working as a landman for the industry, Robert Rouan, was at the One-Stop hoping to find some additional work that would allow him to stay in the industry.
A landman is a person who performs various services for oil and gas exploration companies.
“I’d like to continue doing more work as a landman. I’ve put together a lot of deals in this area,” he said.
The more-general jobs such as warehouse work typically get the better response, said MaryAnn Kochalko, chief operating officer of the One-Stop system of Mahoning and Columbiana counties.
“These events are never consistent in how they draw. Sometimes you have a lot of people; sometimes you don’t have many,” she said.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work for staffing agencies [such as Staff Right] lately,” said Gene F. Babik, business resource network manager, which is part of the One-Stop system.
There is one staffing company that has reserved a spot at the One-Stop office monthly through November, he said.
“They must be getting some type of results, or they wouldn’t keep coming back,” Babik added.
A number of companies have come to the Mahoning Valley and expected a huge available work force based on the high unemployment rate, Kochalko said.
“The work order these companies first come up with are their ‘wish list,’” Kochalko said.
The same companies now are concluding that they need to find reliable workers who can be trained for what they want, Babik said.
“They look for people who will show up on time and pass a drug test,” he said.
For a number of people, the recent economic activity may be “the first glimmer of hope” they have seen in years, said Bert Cene, director of the Mahoning and Columbiana Training Association, which oversees the One-Stop offices.
Based on the number of job orders offices are receiving, it appears the economy is getting better overall, he said.
“When people first come into the One-Stop, they look for something that is exactly like what they did before,” Kochalko said.
“One of the first things we have to do is get them out of that mindset, get them to think about other careers that their skills will translate.”
For some of these people, the job market “has come full circle” with skills they learned working in the steel industry being useful in the growing manufacturing sector or with oil and gas companies, Cene said.