The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Wolfgang Kurtz
LOG Editor 

Opportunity knocks at AVTEC job fair


Wolfgang Kurtz | The Seward Phoenix LOG

Presenters including recruiters from private retailers, industry as well as nonprofits and governmental agencies crowded into the AVTEC Gym on Monday for the annual AVTEC/Seward Job Center Job Fair. There were 49 presenters with over 200 job seekers in attendance over the course of the 4-hour event.

Norm Casagranda of Seward's Job Center says that while 49 presenters set up their stations at Monday's annual job fair, the number of job seekers remained relatively constant from last year's numbers. The event was originally geared exclusively to AVTEC students to help them connect with local employeers as well as employers from around the State of Alaska. About 14 years ago, AVTEC teamed up with the Job Center as a partner, it became a job fair for the Eastern Kenai Peninsula and beyond.

However Casagranda thinks there's more room for growth in applicant traffic. "Even locally, if you've got a job and you're looking for another one, it's kind of hard to go to the job fair. Not only time wise, but your employer might be there," he notes. "But it's a great opportunity for folks to learn about employment, types of employment. One thing to consider is getting more students from say high school to come and learn more about the world of work. I know there was a bus, but there I didn't see exactly how many students showed up."

Overall, in excess of 200 interested people visited the AVTEC Gym between 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Casagranda said he hopes that increasing number of presenters will be met with a surge of community interest. He was also happy to see industry new to the area making a public appearance for the first time. "Vigor – they just wanted to say that they're here and they're just interested in Seward and can do good things for Seward," he said. "Depending on qualifications, their positions aren't always easy to fill."

Casagranda pointed out it's a constant pressure for vendors, employers and presenters to make the rounds to an endless procession of job fairs looking for qualified applicants. He notes that AVTEC is the community's best asset for targeting growing industries to provide training and fill the need for technical personnel. On the other hand, the local seasonal demand for Securitas security officers is often hard to meet with local applicants.

Troy Tacker, yard supervisor at Vigor Ketchikan, said that, as the newest entry to the Seward employment market, the company is all about supporting the community and local hire. Along with his table mate, Jennifer Green, he was pleased at the turn out at the job fair. Green, who with tongue-in-cheek, proclaimed herself Vigor's recruiting office, was also happy to be visiting Seward for the first time. The Portland-based Green also said that she was pleased that the snow was up in the mountains where it belonged.

"We want to grow, but that's not going to happen overnight," Tacker said. "The basis is to come in and see where we're at, make everyone comfortable, let them know we're not coming in to chop a bunch of heads. The shipyard has some rough edges to straighten out, and then we'll start growing from there."

Tacker was a long-time employee of Alaska Ship and Drydock in Ketchikan before Vigor bought out Randy Johnson's operation about two years ago. "It's been a blast. They are a way bigger company. Randy did the best he could, but Vigor has has better insurance, better wages, 10 paid holidays. We're going smoke-free in Ketchikan by September, which has some of the crew on edge. But that's a good health and safety move."

Wolfgang Kurtz | The Seward Phoenix LOG

Troy Tacker and Jennifer Green represent Vigor at its first public visit to Seward. Tacker is a yard supervisor at Vigor in Ketchikan and Green is the company's Portland based director of recruitment.

Once in a Blue Moose, the family owned retailer, was also at the job fair with a table, recruiting for management and sales staff. Morissa Sanderson, Seward area manager, is looking forward to another banner year in retail if Seward has a repeat of last summer's growth. "There was no rest season over the winter. I've heard that there are halibut restrictions and I'm a little concerned about effects on charters. As a souvenir business, that trickle down effect from all of the tourism industry is really important."

For his part, Casagranda was upbeat on prospects for employers and job seekers. Working from the Job Center in the AVTEC administrative building on First Avenue, he expects a busy season with something for everyone. The center offers complete listings of full, part time and seasonal openings for local, regional and statewide positions. The office also provides support for job seekers in completing and submitting applications, especially via the online State of Alaska facilities.


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