DIXON – Charlene Lampert doesn’t find the local job market particularly robust these days, but she admits her frame of reference is limited.
Lampert, of Dixon, sat at a table, diligently filling out a job application at Thursday’s Career Fair at Sauk Valley Community College.
“I lost my job in magazine distribution after 22 years in February,” Lampert said. “I don’t think there’s much out there, but I don’t have much experience in looking for work to compare it to.”
While manufacturing seems to be picking up, she is having a difficult time finding something in specialty services. She has been applying for administrative, office-type positions, and she likes the convenience of the Career Fair.
“It’s nice to have so many employers here in one place,” Lampert said. “It’s opened up ideas for places I hadn’t even thought about applying to.”
This Sauk Career Fair was the second since returning from a yearslong hiatus.
“We used to have one in the past, and when I came here a couple years ago, one of my priorities was to bring back the event,” said Anita Carney, business services coordinator at Sauk.
Forty employers set up booths for this year’s event, up from 27 last year. The turnout seemed to be better this year too, Carney said.
“It was rainy last year, and attendance was sporadic, but this year it’s been steady,” she said.
The name switch from Jobs Fair to Career Fair allows for better representation from employers, because they don’t have to be actively hiring to participate, Carney said.
“They don’t have to be hiring, but this year about 90 percent are, so I think that shows the economy is starting to rebound,” she said.
The list included representives from manufacturing like BorgWarner and Nippon Sharyo, health care employers KSB Hospital and Mercy Nursing Services, and even the leisure sector with Wild Rose Casino and Resort.
The Career Fair is useful long after it ends, said Alan Pfeifer, academic vice president at Sauk.
“We share our information and insights from the event internally to help develop and modify our programs and help meet worker needs,” Pfeifer said.
That process started early this morning with a presentation at a meeting of the Workforce Coalition, at which representatives from Sauk and several local employers discussed curriculum and workforce skills needs.