By Steve Klamkin WPRO News
Out of work Rhode Islanders flocked Wednesday to Central Falls, where the city hosted its first ever job fair, in conjunction with the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training.
Few had a more positive attitude than Pablo Mijares, who’d been laid off from his job in television production some months ago.
“That’s part of life. It’s lucky for me, closing a door, opening another door,” said Mijares, of Warwick. “So, that’s what I’m trying to get. Broadening my career, I’m looking forward to getting something related to my profession.”
More than 40 employers with jobs to offer set up tables around the Knights of Columbus Hall. They included local companies and agencies, including Navigant Credit Union, the Wyatt Detention Center, even the Central Falls Fire Department, which was making use of a federal grant to hire four firefighters on a two-year basis, said Chief Robert Bradley.
“It’s a lot. That’s the four that we lost when we (Central Falls) went through bankruptcy. So that’s kind of bringing us back to where we were before bankruptcy hit and everybody took a bit hit, so that’s a huge bonus for us,” said the chief.
Central Falls is struggling with persistently high unemployment.
“I know it’s over eight percent,” said City Councilwoman Carlene Fonseca. “We do have one of the highest (unemployment rates) in the state.”
William Conklin of Providence works part time now, but was looking for full time work.
“Whether it’s landscaping, or pretty much anything at this point. Retail, customer service,” said Conklin, 19.
“I’m looking to stay in the medical field,” said Kerry Case of Pawtucket, who’s been volunteering at Memorial Hospital. “I’ve been in the medical field since I was 14. You know, anything that has to do with patient interaction.”
Organizers with the city and the state Department of Labor and Training were heartened by the turnout.
“People are hungry for jobs, people are willing and determined to get out and look for jobs,” said Councilwoman Fonseca. “It also tells us that our state and our city is working very hard to close those gaps.”