The road to an economic recovery is not an easy one. Sometimes a large store such as Walmart opens one new store and 23,000 people submit applications. As hiring confidence goes up, recovery looks more like a puzzle of mismatched statistics in which qualified workers can’t find jobs and jobs can’t quite find qualified workers.
Job-seekers in 2014 are looking for employment in a time of retraining and specialized skill sets. Many of these workers’ skills are obsolete and with the economy creeping back to normal, these workers are looking to join the employment pool again.
Jared Ebbing, Mercer County’s economic development director says the road to recovery has been a robust one. He says, “We have a lot of things going for us. What we need is someone who will give working in a rural location a shot.”
For this specific purpose, Jared has created Hometown Opportunity, a website that encourages people to seek employment in Fort Recovery and its surrounding towns. “I mean, we’re not backwoods. People say we’re in the middle of nowhere, but I like to say we’re in the centre of everything. One-and-a-half hours from Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, Indianapolis,” he says, even though some of the cities he mentions are closer to two hours away.
“We’ve posted more than 1,400 jobs on Hometown Opportunities,” Ebbing says. “Have you heard of Ferguson? It’s sort of like the Amazon of the plumbing world.” A plant has recently been opened by Ferguson nearby, and currently they are hiring clerks, shipping associates, engineers and order pickers.
At the Fort Recovery bowling alley on league nights, it is common to find guys dressed in matching shirts talk about their jobs at Ferguson, or at J&M making grain carts, or processing chickens or turkeys, or even grading eggs. The situation regarding employment got bad in this region, sure, with an unemployment rate of more than 9 per cent back in 2010, but the county’s agricultural base sustained it and almost everybody agrees that now, if you wish to find a job, it is entirely possible to do so.
Gloria Burns is one such potential employee interviewing at Perham Egg Ohio, that wants to be the SQF practitioner — the safe quality food specialist. Prior to her interview, she spent the weekend researching the company. She even brought extra copies of her resume to the interview, which she has recently updated. She reminds herself, now, while shaking Bernie the interviewer’s hand, to look him straight in the eye.
On being asked why she is currently unemployed, she says that it was due to a management change at her previous company. Before she was let go she led her former plant to a 98 per cent on a quality inspection. That was four months ago. She’s been figuring out how to get back in the workforce since, and this job, with a salary range starting at $45,000 compared with the mid-50s she was earning before, seems to have a lot of potential.
At the end of her interview, Gloria drives back to the farm she lives on in the next county down (Darke, which is currently experiencing an unemployment rate of 6.1 per cent), to the husband who works at the Kitchen-Aid factory, to the life she has been trying to cram full of activity and purpose ever since she was let go from her previous job. She teaches Sunday school, volunteers at her grandson’s school, pursues her associate’s degree online, cleans houses part-time, and tends to her chickens, whose eggs she sells via a sign by the side of the road.
After a successful first round, Gloria is 20 minutes early for her second interview. Bernie the interviewer has asked his colleague, Tim Zueger, to accompany him on the plant walk-through, wanting another pair of eyes to observe how Gloria reacts to the job site. Tim, who’s been in eggs all his life, observes from a slight distance while Bernie and Gloria talk about their shared interest in cleanliness.
“You have three shifts?” Gloria asks.
“And the third is sanitization?”
“A complete teardown,” he affirms.
“Good. I like that.”
Bernie leads her to a half-finished construction area along the side of the plant and quizzes Gloria, “I made them stop work here. Why do you think I made them stop work?”
“Mould,” she answers, and points to a faint rim of grey along the floor.
“You got it.”
At the end of the tour, Bernie leaves Gloria along a strip of drywall, overlooking a sea of concrete and caution tape and the wide empty space that will, in two months, break millions and millions of eggs. He comes back five minutes later with a proposition.
“Would it be of interest to you,” he asks, “to run the plant?”
This is not the job she applied and is interviewing for. It is in fact, a better job, one which would make her the boss.
“That’s — that’s great.” Inside, Gloria tells herself she would have waited tables if this hadn’t worked out. She thought that the interview had gone well, but she was never expecting an offer like this, so soon. Bernie says he wants to send her to a sister plant in Minnesota for training, as quickly as the next week. “Do we have a deal?” he asks.
Gloria says she’d like to look over the paperwork, and she has to book travel arrangements etc but Bernie interrupts, “Do we have a deal?” he asks again and extends his hand. Finally she nods, laughing.
One more hire down. Plenty left to go. But one more down as the economy recovers.
“Shake?” Bernie says. “Shake? Shake.”
Speaking from the floor of the Perham Egg plant, Coyle, another employee, said this week that he hopes to hire another 20 people by the third week of June.
The new plant’s June 1 opening date was pushed back because the company is waiting for a special permit to install a waste water machine.
“The delay is not related to a lack of people,” Coyle said as egg-breaking machines hummed in the background. He then launched into a much more effective plan aimed at hiring the remaining staff he needs. He took out radio and newspaper ads and, last week, held a job fair at the plant at which approximately 135 people showed up. That number was whittled down to 40; second interviews were to start this week.
Source: The Toronto Star