Hundreds connect with employers during 2016 Career Expo

Hundreds connect with employers during 2016 Career Expo
November 03
09:00 2016

Photo by Tevin Stinson



About 500 people flocked to the Wake Forest Biotech Place with hopes of landing a new job or jump starting a career during the 2016 Career Expo last week. The event, hosted by the Winston-Salem Urban League (WSUL), was designed to give local job seekers an opportunity to meet face-to-face with local employers.

While navigating her way through the rows of tables, city native Bryce Wesley said she heard about the expo on Facebook and decided to check it out.

“I’m ready to explore and see what’s out there,” she said. “I’ve been on the job hunt for  a while now, and this has been very helpful.”

Wesley said, “This is exactly what this community needs.”

It’s no secret that poverty has been a growing issue in Winston-Salem. According to the Brookings Institute, a Washington-based think tank, in conjunction with the online “Business Insider,” 24.1 percent of the residents live below the poverty level. In 2014, the Twin City ranked second on Brookings’ list of major metro areas in the nation that experienced tremendous growth in poverty between 2000 and 2012.

While a number of local organizations and elected officials have started initiatives to attack the growing poverty issue, WSUL Chief Executive James Perry said, “The Urban League felt it was necessary to attack the root of the problem, unemployment.”

According to the most recent federal U.S. Census, among urban populations that have high percentages of unemployment, low per capita income and high percent-ages of public assistance, Forsyth County has 12 areas listed as “distressed.”

“We felt it was our obligation to connect people in this community with the opportunity to obtain good paying jobs to provide for themselves and their families.” Perry said.

While Perry mentioned he was delighted to see so many people from the community connect with employers, when asked about the future of the event he said, “Next year I hope there isn’t a need for the event.”

“Our goal is to end all poverty and unemployment in this area, and if we reach our goal, we won’t need to host events like this,” Perry continued.

“We are delighted with the turnout, but it’s kind of bittersweet because the harsh reality is that our communities and families are suffering because of the lack of jobs and opportunities.”

More than 50 employers participated in the Career Expo, including representatives from local businesses, corporations, government agencies and nonprofit agencies. To measure the impact of the expo, WSUL will stay in contact with employers to see how many people from the expo were able to get jobs. An early census from marketing director Abio Harris relays the message that the event made a real impact. She said many employers mentioned they met with people to fill open positions.

She said, “We’re getting a lot of positive feedback from our employers. I think we did a good job of offering a variety of opportunities.”

“But this is just the first step. A lot more has to be done to help the people in this community.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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