Cheryl Magiera had a smile on her face as she talked about the different job opportunities available at the College of the Canyons’ Job Fair on Thursday.
She had every reason to – since “The Great Resignation” began shortly after the start of the pandemic, more than 47 million Americans have voluntarily quit their jobs as of 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ever since, employers have been eager to hire – and qualified workers have been harder to come by. Many employers are now raising their starting wages and offering more benefits to attract potential candidates.
“It’s a fascinating time. Obviously, it’s frustrating for employers because they need people. But at the same time, employees are job seekers, they’re looking for much more than a job,” said Justin Wallace, director of business partnerships and workforce engagement at COC. “Now, it seems they’re looking for either experiences or how that job can fit into their lifestyle. So it’s become now incumbent upon the employers to say, ‘Hey, you can have this job… here are the types of experiences, here are the benefits our company offers.’ Whether that’s additional vacation days, or company outings or educational reimbursements, whatever.”
Wallace said the job fair usually has around 70 different tables from a variety of different fields seeking employees (education, law enforcement, first responders, health care, industry, etc.) but this year, they were booked up within 10 days – leading the fair on Thursday to have more than 100 employers present.
“Somehow they have to establish themselves and have a competitive advantage to find top quality talent,” said Wallace. “If they can’t do that, then they’re not going to hire folks… We as humans need to find a sense of purpose and passion. So how do we align passion with a company? Well, the company needs to do a good job of telling their story of what they do in terms of their business strategy. But also, what does that mean for the greater community? I think we’re seeing a lot of that [dialogue]. And that’s a paradigm shift that’s been happening for the past couple of months [locally].”
Magiera, who recently graduated from COC with an associate’s degree in accounting, said businesses have to compete, especially when low-skill jobs are now offering more.
“They have to compete because I mean, just like restaurants and drive-throughs or the fast food [industry] is at what, $16 an hour right now? So they have to compete. So they have to offer more money,” said Magiera.
Marc Leighton, director of human resources at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, said they’re searching for employees in various roles.
“As for Henry Mayo hospital, [as] a local community hospital, we’re looking for both clinical and non-clinical jobs,” said Leighton. “We’re here to serve the community and serve patients in the community. But we have a number of different positions opening. Certainly we need to hire our rounds and we need to hire those types of ancillary services in the hospital so [there’s a] full range of jobs. That’s why we’re here.”
As for Magiera, she said she’s fortunate to have graduated in a better climate for workers as opposed to a time like the recession of 2008, in which jobs were hard to come by.
“I have friends that experienced in 2008, you know, losing their homes, having to move, and losing their jobs, and now, it’s like everything is slowly getting back to normal since COVID,” said Magiera. “Companies have gone under, since COVID, but some have come back and gotten stronger. I feel fortunate to be able to experience this right now. So that’s what I’m here for.”