Employment fair focuses on how to stay employed

May 9, 2019

HUNTINGTON — Reginald Gayles was one of approximately 100 people to attend a unique employment fair Wednesday morning at the Cabell County Public Library in Huntington.

Gayles, 52, of Huntington, came to the first ever “Operation Vocation” event, which focused on staying employed rather than finding employment.

“I have a part-time job with Southwestern Community Action Group as a trainee, but I am hoping to learn things here that will help me advance my career,” Gayles said.

“This event is about employment retention,” said Beth Smith, the Jobs First program coordinator at Harmony House in Huntington and the agency that presented the event.

Smith says employment retention, as the name suggests, refers to various skills that employees need to keep their jobs and achieve success. She said for employees to maintain consistency, there is a vital need for effective employment retention training for those with a job.

“A lot of folks can easily get a job and do well on interviews, but some don’t have the basic skills needed to keep their employment or advance in their careers,” Smith said. “Our goal today is to give them valuable information needed to stay employed.”

Various community partners at the daylong event discussed topics such as chain of command in the workplace, professionalism, work ethic, communication skills, conflict resolution, transitional employment, sexual harassment and more.

Erica Finster, employment specialist at Goodwill Industries of KYOWVA Area, said her organization talked with attendees about “Hire Attire,” a division of the agency that works to empower men to overcome employment barriers, boost self-confidence and achieve independence for themselves and their families.

“It’s an opportunity for gentlemen in the community to come in and we can give them professional attire, like a full suit and different other types of work apparel,” Finster said. “Men who are adequately prepared for an interview or a new career are more likely to stay employed and become role models for their families and communities.”

Finster says Hire Attire offers professional attire for job interviews or employment, career development tools, resume writing assistance, skills training and job readiness techniques.

Keith Vass, quality assurance specialist at Goodwill Industries of KYOWVA Area, says the program has helped hundreds of men since it was developed by Alissa Stewart, the agency’s executive director, several years ago.

“We also partner with Dress for Success, who helps empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life,” he said.

Other community partners that participated or sponsored the event included Mountwest Community & Technical College, Huntington Junior College, Marshall University’s Career Center, Goodwill, Catholic Charities, The Results Companies, GC Services, Dress for Success, Branches, the Department of Rehabilitation Services, the Social Security Administration and the Cabell County Public Library.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @Fred-PaceHD.