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The annual Berkshire Works job fair had 66 employers, all with open positions.

Berkshire Works Job Fair Connects Job Seekers With Open Positions

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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A steady flow of people looking for work or looking for a new opportunity browsed the positions available from an array of industries and educational organizations.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Hundreds of people looking to advance their careers or get into the workforce browsed through an array of available jobs at the Berkshire Works annual job fair Wednesday.
The annual event had such a demand for employers to showcase their opportunities that Stephanie Hambelton, business service representative for Berkshire Works, said there was a wait list. The Crowne Plaza's space restricted the number of vendors to 66 and there were still employers looking to participate.
"Clearly there are jobs and clearly there are job seekers. There are people who need work and there are also people  who are already working and looking for something better or a second position. It is important for an event like this to make that connection," Hambelton said. 
"There is work and there are people looking for work so we are giving the opportunity to put the two together."
A steady flow of job seekers meandered in and out of the tables feature all employers with at least one available job. 
"Every employer here today actually has jobs posted with us currently. They all have open positions and that was a point I made important. Their ticket into the fair was that they have open positions," Hambelton said.
The number of employers is on par with other years and job seekers ranged from those who are unemployed to those who are looking for a change.
"I've gotten some great feedback from the employers already, some great compliments. They are telling me the flow is great. They are telling me the job seekers are the best dressed that they've seen in a while. I emphasized that to job seekers as well," Hambelton said.
As of 10 a.m., just an hour after it began, the fair was looking to be one of the best the organization has put on with a goal of breaking last year's number of job seekers attending. Hambelton said they included not only those who participated in programs offered by the Berkshire Works Career Center but also an array of people who had heard about the job fair. 
"There are people here, and I've been with the Career Center for three years, that I don't see on a daily basis, that I've never seen," Hambelton said.
The Career Center, she said, was packed on Tuesday with job seekers printing out resumes to bring to the fair. The jobs spanned industries and included youth services and educational institutions.
The job market has been showing an increase in local months, according to the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. In August, the unemployment rate for the Pittsfield metropolitan region dropped to 3.9 percent, according to August reports, dropping from 4.2 percent last month and down from 5 percent this time last year. The North Adams region also showed decreased unemployment from 6.2 percent last year to 5 percent this year. The Great Barrington region dropped to 2.9 percent from 3.5 percent last August.
BerkshireJobs, iBerkshires' job search site, has more than 300 jobs posted for the Berkshire County region.
Adjusted for seasonal employment, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reports a statewide nemployment rate of 3.9 percent with unemployment rates dropping in 22 labor markets. In the last year, it is estimated that the state added 68,100 new jobs.
The goal of the job fair is to continue that progress by connecting those unemployed with work and giving opportunities for those in the workforce to find better jobs.

Tags: employment,   job fair,   jobs,   unemployment,   

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Veteran Spotlight: Sgt. Maj. Michael King

By Wayne SoaresSpecial to iBerkshires
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — This week's Veteran Spotlight subject is retired Army Sgt. Maj. Michael King, who now leads the Berkshire Veteran Outreach Center.
King grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and served his country from 1993 to 2015. He enlisted at the age of 18 and was sent to basic training at Fort McClellan, Ala. 
"It was definitely a culture shock," he recalled. "I learned about biscuits and gravy from the mess hall, which I found delicious ... remember an obscene amount of heat and humidity."
King's first assignment was at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., where he served in law enforcement as an military police officer. From there, King was assigned to the former Johnston Island Air Force Base — 800 miles southwest of Hawaii — that is now a wildlife preserve.
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