TAMPA BAY WORKFORCE ALLIANCE - Kristen Friend-Weaver

10/24/03

The Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance is responsible for overseeing training and outreach programs that help match job seekers with appropriate employers in Hillsborough County. Renee Benton, the president of the Alliance, emphasized that they are a part of a national network of resources available to employers and employees. This career fair, however, was not aimed at first time or entry-level job seekers. Benton said that over the past few years, more people who are farther advanced in their professional lives have been seeking their services. However, she does not necessarily attribute that trend to any changes in the type of people who are looking for work. Rather, she says that this expansion in Alliance clientele is the result of their ability to market themselves…

Economists have been arguing since 2001 about whether or not the US economy is headed for recession or recovery. But the reality of two straight years of job losses has been hitting home with many individuals. Although the US economy did add 57,000 jobs in September, the overall unemployment rate of 6.1% remained unchanged. Benton agreed that the national unemployment situation is still somewhat gloomy. However, she pointed out that Hillsborough County’s job market has remained relatively strong over the past several years…

But she also cautioned that the tough times are not yet over for many…

In addition, she pointed to changes in the nature of the marketplace that make it more difficult for potential employees…

People representing a wide variety of ages and experience were present at the fair. Many were mid-level executives who had recently been laid off. However, several in attendance had been laid off from jobs they had been working for ten or twenty years. Overall, the mood of many of the job seekers was both hopeful and cautious. Lee Calavoke, a database administrator said that the past year had been difficult for both himself and many of his colleagues. However, Calavoke also said that he still wishes to stay in the same field regardless of the current market challenges…

Kelvin Decoursey was at the event because he is seeking a career transition from his position in the Army. Decoursey said that the whole process of job hunting is new to him, but that he has found groups like the Workforce Alliance and others that have aided his search. Although he was still somewhat skeptical about the current economic health of the country, he also said that he thinks things should be turning around within a reasonable period of time…

At the seminars, speakers urged people to change the way they tried to look for employment by getting away from the standard resume and trying other more creative approaches. Jason Rice, who has laid off twice in the past year agrees. Rice said that he feels the economy will eventually turn around, but until then he recognizes the need to change his strategy…

The Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance has four career centers throughout the Bay area that provide youth and first time job seeker programs as well as training for mid-level professionals looking for different work. For more information about their programs, visit www.workforcetampa.com. For WMNF news, I’m Kristen Friend-Weaver.

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