Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

May 11, 2013

Officials: Job prospects looking better for grads

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — Hundreds of graduates are about to leave institutions of higher learning and head into the workforce, and while unemployment figures remain high, there are jobs to be found.

“It’s picked up some,” Manager David Hodges of WorkForce West Virginia in Mercer County said Friday. He checked the latest state and national unemployment figures. “In March it was 7.0 percent in West Virginia. The national unemployment rate was 7.6 percent. It’s been a tough couple of years, but it’s getting somewhat better.”

Local hiring has been steady, Hodges said.

“It’s still adequate. There are jobs available. We’ve had several jobs fairs, and there has been employer activity. It goes back to the type of training you have had and the type of available jobs,” he said. “When you’re a college graduate, it’s hard to break in when you don’t have any experience. Not all businesses will hire people into a higher management position with only a college degree.”

College graduates have earned degrees that give them the foundation for a career, but they will have to look at entry positions first. A college degree does give people opportunities for improvement that they would not have had otherwise, he said.

Pinpointing exactly what types of job opportunities are available is difficult, but one industry is offering possibilities, Hodges said.

“There always seems to be openings in the health care industry,” he said. “As people are aging, there is going to be a need for health care providers.”

WorkForce West Virginia has been hosting job fairs to help job seekers and employers make connections.

“We had one (Friday) in Greenbrier County,” Hodges said. “We held ours in Mercer County last month at the youth center on Stadium Drive. We had about 200 job seekers and 35 employers. A lot of people left there with some hope of having made some good contacts, and some hope they might have made a match with a job.”

Current job openings, both statewide and local, are posted on the WorkForce West Virginia website.

“We’ll do anything we can to help these people go back to work or start off for the first time,” Hodges said.