At the Orange Workforce Center, the whole goal is to help folks find a job.

Next Wednesday, the center, in partnership with the Orange County Economic Development office, will host its first job fair of 2017, hoping to connect local job seekers with local businesses.

Local businesses including Aerojet Rocketdyne, Lohmann, Battlefield Farms, American Woodmark, Green Applications and Americare Plus are among the nine companies who will participate in next week’s job fair.

As unemployment rates decrease nationwide and businesses expand, the labor market has tightened, said Orange County Economic Development Director Tommy Miller, making it more difficult for growing businesses to find employees.

“We’ve been making more connections and I think the benefits are showing as we’re getting more companies involved in the job fairs,” Miller said. “The amount of available labor across the country with the growth of businesses is just showing that there are more people employed now, which means there’s less of a pool out there looking for work.”

Miller said his office has worked hand-in-hand with the Orange Workforce Center on outreach and communication with local businesses so they can take advantage of the job fairs. The entities also hope citizens seeking employment will also take advantage and participate in Wednesday’s job fair.

The Orange Workforce Center, located at 127 Belleview Ave., operates three days a week. The workforce center is overseen by Rappahannock Goodwill Industries but a total of seven partnering agencies, including the Piedmont Workforce Network, National Council on Aging and the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC), offer resources to help people find and sustain jobs. The center is funded through the Piedmont Workforce Network’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which offers adult, youth and dislocated worker programs at various locations throughout central Virginia.

The VEC’s Gail Moore works at the center twice a week. She said she has seen a decrease in visitation at the center, but hopes people will take advantage of the resources the center offers in addition to the job fairs.

At these centers, trained staff members can assist job-seekers with their job searches, questions about unemployment, career counseling, resume writing, interview training more. Businesses can also use the locations to host hiring events and post jobs.

The services are open to anybody, Moore said. At the center, they are committed to providing one-on-one assistance, helping people write resumes or cover letters, search for jobs, assess their interests and prepare for interviews. More intensive programs are also available to those who qualify. The WOIA offers grants which will assign someone a caseworker who’ll work with that person on getting on the career path they want to take.

Moore hosts Unemployment Orientation every Tuesday. During the class she said she helps people understand the basics of unemployment, shows them what they need to do in order to receive unemployment benefits and offers other tools to get them employed.

Partners 1st Credit Union also offers budgeting classes at the center.

“The whole goal is to help folks find a job,” Moore said.

While job fairs are a great place for people to seek employment, Moore said the center has a board of job listings and can provide people with other resources to aid in their search.

“They can come in here and if nothing else find out what jobs are being offered, what employers participating in the job fairs are and revamp their resume,” she said. “They can get on the computers and get all of that done. A lot of people go to job fairs and don’t bring resumes with them—that’s half the battle right there.”

Transportation is a common concern among people seeking employment, Moore explained.

The Foothills Area Mobility System (FAMS) coordinates with a variety of local providers in the area to provide transportation services to the community. FAMS will be present at the job fair to offer transit information to attendees.

“If you’re looking for work, entry level or even Ph.D-related, a lot of these companies cover the full gamut of skill sets,” Miller said.

The job fair will be held Wednesday, Feb. 22 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Gordon Building, located at 112 W. Main St., Orange. Prior to the job fair, the Orange Workforce Center will host a free workshop on job fair etiquette. Beginning at 9 a.m., participants will get advice about how to present themselves to employers, how to speak to employers and make the best impression possible during an interview. For more information on the job fair, call (540) 212-4570.

The Orange Workforce Center is open Tuesday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. For more information, call 661-4654 or visit http://fredgoodwill.org/.

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