The Massachusetts Office of Labor and Workforce Development is holding a series of events and activities in November to help veterans find work. WAMC”s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.
The Career Point Career Center in Holyoke would not normally be open on the Veterans Day holiday, but it opened its doors for two and a half hours Monday morning to host a job fair just for military veterans. David Gadaire, the executive director of Career Point says on a typical day they’ll see 40 to 50 veterans come into the local state employment office looking for work.
Massachusetts has more than 85,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The unemployment rate, nationally, for post 9-11 military veterans is more than 14 percent.
Linda Candage, a veterans employment representative with the Massachusetts Office of Labor and Workforce Development says there is a reluctance on the part of some employers to hire veterans.
Wilfredo Nieves of Chicopee came to the job fair Monday. An Army veteran, Nieves said he believes he has the qualities of a good employee.
Sarah Bogan of Holyoke said after ten years in the US Navy she believes she can take on any job.
McNairn Packaging of Westfield, has a long history of hiring veterans. Kristen Pospolita of the company’s human resources department was at the veterans jobs fair looking to fill 30 openings.
State Senator Michael Knapik said employment specialists believe military veterans could help answer a skills gap that threatens to leave local employers unable to fill hundreds of future job openings.
The state has committed $750,000 to a pilot program.
The state’s office of labor and workforce development awarded grants totaling more than $20,000 to local career centers in western and central Massachusetts to promote ways to link the business community with veterans. There have been job fairs, networking events and hire-a-vet promotions at sporting events.
Another veterans jobs fair is scheduled Tuesday at the Future Works Career Center in Springfield.