PUNTA GORDA — Walking into Thursday’s job fair, job seekers were met with a line stretching all the way to the front doors of the conference center, eager to find their next opportunity.

The fourth annual Job & Education Fair, hosted by Charlotte County’s Society for Human Resource Management, was held Thursday at the Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center. More than 50 employers and schools talked to over 200 job seekers in the first hour alone.

Unemployment Rate

July 2019 June 2019 January 2019 July 2018 July 2017
National 3.7% 3.7% 4.0% 3.9% 4.3%
Florida 3.3% 3.4% 3.4% 3.5% 4.1%
Charlotte County 3.9% 4.0% 4.4% 4.4% 4.7%
DeSoto County 4.0% 3.9% 4.4% 4.3% 5.0%
Sarasota County 3.3% 3.4% 3.4% 3.5% 4.1%

Along with creating a networking hub, the event provided resume review and career coaching in the back.

With about 40% of the population considered as a viable workforce, “we want to keep people here and working,” said Charlotte County SHRM chapter president Kim Dabilis Byrne.

“People may need to focus on retooling,” Byrne said, trying to get the skills for jobs available in the area.

One lucrative and open area at the moment is the medical field. With approximately 7,100 job openings a year for registered nurses, nursing degrees are in demand, according to the Florida Department of Health.

“There’s no recession in the medical field,” said Best Chance representative Gerald Anderson, who teaches CPR and first-aid classes.

Anderson spoke to 20-year-old Jacquez Cokley from Sarasota, who has been job hunting for about three months now. Though he’s been interested in various fields, he found that he doesn’t have the experience required for employers to consider him.

North Port resident Natalie Shkraba, 18, had a similar story. Though currently employed at Subway, she was at the job fair to find either a different job or continue her education to become qualified for a job she wants.

Gary Folsom, 68, was hoping to find a job such as a managerial position on construction sites. The problem is, he said, employers are wary of his age when looking at his resume.

“When I sit in front of them (for an interview) there’s no issue,” he said. “But I just need to get an interview.”

Like many, “2008 wiped us out financially,” he said.

Now he and his wife, who works part-time, are rebuilding their retirement fund.

At the end of the event, Byrne is compiling a book of each attendee’s resume, and distributing them to employers to remind them of all the talent that walked through the conference center’s doors.

Sun Coast Media Group, Career Source Southwest Florida, Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center and Goodwill Industries sponsored the event.

“It’s important to support our community and provide opportunities for those seeking jobs,” said Dave Woods, Sun Coast Media Group’s marketing and events manager. “My advice to job seekers is to be persistent ... You never know what’s going to open up.”

If you are in need of a job or employees, visit Career Source’s Port Charlotte location at 3745 Tamiami Trail to get connected. They can also be reached at 941-235-5900.

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