Career fair answers 'Help Wanted in Central Pennsylvania' issue

Event will give central Pennsylvania adults a venue for learning about the region's employers and job opportunities

University Park, Pa.—When a company goes out of business, its workers sometimes have to start new careers. A new initiative will now give local adult learners the opportunity to learn more about employers close to home and the kinds of education and skills they will need to land a new job. Penn State Career Services is teaming up with Penn State Continuing and Professional Education, a unit of Outreach, to host the inaugural Central Pennsylvania Regional Career Fair from 2 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 28, at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, University Park. The Career Fair is open to all central Pennsylvania employers and Penn State adult students who are about to graduate, alumni and local residents.

For Penn State adult learner Carol "Buffy" Holt of Julian, the Career Fair offers a chance to network with employers. After being laid off in 2001, Holt enrolled in Penn State's letters, arts and sciences associate degree program. "I'm location bound, so I want to get my resume out there and show employers my skills,” said the single mother of a teenage son. Since earning her associate degree, Holt has returned to Penn State to enroll in the bachelor of science degree in security and risk analysis program in the College of Information Sciences and Technology.

According to Chris MacGill, associate director of Career Services, "The Career Fair is an opportunity for employers to target Penn State students and alumni who are finishing their education and who want to work and live in central Pennsylvania. It's a first step in the process of learning about a company, job opportunities and the job search process."

The Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County is partnering with Penn State on the Career Fair and promoting the event to its more than 1,000 members. Jean Gerber, vice president for Chamber Operations, said, "A major concern for central Pennsylvania employers is finding qualified workers. The Career Fair offers a great opportunity to connect employers with potential employees."

The Community Diversity Group of Centre County (CDGCC) also is a Career Fair partner. Members of this nonprofit coalition are conducting a grassroots effort to spread the word about the Career Fair to community members and businesses, said CDGCC member Christian Mielnik.

Central Pennsylvania currently has a workforce of nearly 278,000 people ages 16 and older, according to the Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Corporation, which oversees Pennsylvania workforce initiatives for the nine-county region of Centre, Clinton, Columbia, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union. About 17,000 are unemployed among the population of 600,000. The average household income is $47,854 (2006), and the per capita income is $21,012 (2007). Of the population over age 25, 83 percent have a high school diploma and nearly 20 percent have a bachelor’s degree.

Penn State adult learner Stacey Phillips is eager "to learn more about the employers in the area to see where I can fit in." The married Huntingdon mother of a daughter and stepdaughter was laid off in 2007 from her job in customer services sales and logistics. She is enrolled in Penn State's associate degree in business administration program and is preparing for a new career, possibly in the human resources field.

Both Holt and Phillips who live and have worked in central Pennsylvania were employees of Murata Electronics of North America Inc., which had a large manufacturing plant in State College. Both are receiving federal retraining funds through the U.S. Department of Labor's Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, coordinated by Pennsylvania CareerLink.

For more information about the Central Pennsylvania Regional Career Fair, visit online.

Penn State Continuing Education offers a venue for adults to return to the classroom. Continuing Education reaches more than 30,000 adult learners annually at Penn State campuses statewide. The unit also serves more than 220,000 Pennsylvania youth each year through summer academic and sport camps and other programs at Penn State campuses. Continuing Education is comprised of Conferences, Continuing Education at all Penn State campuses, Management Development Programs and Services, and Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center. For more information, visit online. Continuing Education is part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education. Penn State Outreach serves more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 80 countries worldwide.

Penn State Career Services offers comprehensive services to all students including career counseling and planning, outreach programming, recruiting and employer services and a wide range of other resources. For more information about this Division of Student Affairs unit, visit online.

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Last Updated March 19, 2009