Official: Job fair attendance nearly doubles

Staff photo: Tony Bullocks Kelly Schaf, a personal trainer from Portales, speaks with Patty Vaughn, human resources officer for the non-appropriated funds office at Cannon Air Force Base Tuesday afternoon during the Eastern New Mexico Job Fair the Clovis Civic Center job fair. Schaf, who just finished her work for a doctorate in veterinary science, said she was looking for anything in regards to a job.

Staff photo: Tony Bullocks
Kelly Schaf, a personal trainer from Portales, speaks with Patty Vaughn, human resources officer for the non-appropriated funds office at Cannon Air Force Base Tuesday afternoon during the Eastern New Mexico Job Fair the Clovis Civic Center job fair. Schaf, who just finished her work for a doctorate in veterinary science, said she was looking for anything in regards to a job.

By Vanessa Kahin
Staff writer
vkahin@cnjonline.com

For Clovis native Emily Anaya, Tuesday’s job fair at the Clovis Civic Center was more than an opportunity to rub elbows with representatives from big companies, educational programs and a bustling Air Force base.

After years of having several jobs, for Anaya, the job fair meant a first step toward having a career. She has been a caretaker for the elderly or mentally disabled since 2000. She once cared for five clients; however, two have since died, and another has relocated.

Fewer clients means less income for the mother who is trying to help her 21-year-old son pay off his schooling at the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Austin, Texas.

Anaya is also a clerk at a Chevron gas station. She is unsure as to how to put together a resume, but plans to learn to be able to pursue a career.

“Work doesn’t scare me,” Anaya said. “I’m looking for a career. … One good-paying, steady career. I’ve had many jobs.”

Raymond Mondragon, economic and community development planner with Eastern Plains Council of Goverments, which helped plan the job fair, estimated about 300 people attended the event — nearly doubling last year’s showing of 167 job seekers.

“I’m excited for the people who are looking for jobs,” Mondragon said. Employers were happy with the turnout, he said, adding that Halliburton — which he said had 200 regional positions open — will follow up with 150 job seekers who visited the company’s booth.

Taco Box interviewed about 20 people on the spot, Mondragon said. One interviewee was Jessica Adams, who said she does not have experience in the fast food industry, but has worked with the public at grocery stores, a convenience store, and the mall.

Adams, a single mother to three children, a 7, 5 and 2 years old, said she has not worked since February and is looking forward to her next opportunity. Of the job fair, she said she liked having all the employers in one place, as opposed to having to drive to different locations to visit them.

“I’m glad I came,” she said. “Everyone should come to the job fair.”

The fair was a collaboration of the Regional Growth Management Office and the Public-Private, Private-Public, Partnership, also known as the P-4. Cannon Air Force Base was present with a message to the community: Civilians are able, and welcome, to apply.

“Civilians work at the base,” said Capt. Hillary Hedberg, P-4 Committee member. “You don’t have to have a military affiliation.”

There are about 450 civilians with civil service positions at CAFB, said Kathy Hubbell, chief of civilian personnel.

Hubbell’s department is seeking to fill several positions that could not be filled previously due to the government shutdown.

“(The shutdown) put us in a hiring freeze,” Hubbell said. “We have a lot of positions vacant. Now, we can finally recruit.”

CAFB also offers non-appropriated funds civilian positions.

Whereas civil service positions are funded by taxpayers, NAF positions are funded by the money generated on the base. Employees’ wages, according to Patty Vaughn, chief of NAF Human Resources office, are paid through their services rendered.

There are 216 NAF employees at CAFB.

With about 300 employees, ENMRSH Inc., was present and in search of applicants that could fill a variety of job openings, from entry level to professional positions, full- and part-time.

“We’re one of the area’s largest employers,” said Director of Quality Development Celeste Childers. Applications are available online, she said, but ENMRSH Inc. accepts them, along with resumes, in hard copy form.

“It’s important for job seekers to learn about not only the services we provide, but also the wide variety of openings we have available,” Childers said. “We’re looking for people who are interested in working with adults with disabilities, children, (or) in an office setting.”

Large employers proved to have a large number of openings, as was the case with Southwest Cheese, which has about 380 employees and “a wide variety of positions open,” according to Human Resources Manager Leah Jackson.

Available positions include “everything from entry level to senior level (positions), operators to engineers,” Jackson said.

Despite the open positions, Southwest Cheese — a cheese and whey product factory between Clovis and Portales — was mostly taking job applicant information online.
“We do everything online,” Jackson said. “That way, (applicant information) doesn’t get misplaced or lost.”

Described as a global company with a small plant in Clovis by Human Resources Associate Josie Garcia, Cummins Natural Gas Engines was accepting hard copy resumes to join its team.

Garcia was quick to explain to those who stopped by the company’s booth that Cummins Natural Gas Engines does not make engines for trucks, but rather for irrigation pumping, industrial air compression, energy production and the like.

Although the company of about 44 employees only had one open position — in administration — Garcia said she was accepting resumes that could help fill positions as an assembler, parts coordinator, material planners and financial analysts, to name a few.

“I’m always taking resumes,” Garcia said. “You never know, something might come open from one day to the next.

“I’m never going to turn someone down,” she continued. “(We) keep applications and resumes on file for two years.”

The Learning Center, based in House, seeks to help those who have not completed high school earn their diploma.

“We’re the alternative high school,” said Guidance Counselor Clyde Moon of the school program that currently serves about 30 students at grade levels 9-12.

There is no age limit to be in the program, Moon said, and students hail from around the area from places such as Clovis, Tucumcari, Santa Rosa, Fort Sumner and Portales. Completing the program only requires that a student make it to the facility in House once a week — school work may be completed off-campus.

Moon said many who attended the job fair may not have a high school diploma.

“There is a shortage of qualified labor right now,” Moon said. “The new requirements to getting your high school diploma prepare students well for the job market, or for college.”