Job Fair highlights unemployment problems - Tucson News Now

Job Fair highlights unemployment problems

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The jobless rate in Arizona hovers around 8%, higher than the national average.

The average in Arizona has been steady for the past two months.

It means we're running in place. Not losing ground but not gaining ground either.

A quick trip around the Job Fair at PCC Northwest bears that out.

When the doors were open this morning a 10:00 a.m., there were more than 150 people waiting and there was a steady stream of job seekers until the doors closed at 2:00 PM. There was no down time.

"It just shows how many people are out of work and looking for work," says District 1 Congresswoman Ann Kiribati, who sponsored the Job Fair. "My heart goes out to them."

And she says she can identify with them.

Years ago, she spent two years as a substitute teacher because there were no teaching jobs available in Tucson.

"I wanted to work full time," she says. "I wouldn't know if I had work until 4:00 a.m. every morning."

There were 37 companies and organizations which showed up to look for potential employees from Circle K, the National Guard, Oro VAlley Police Department and the Goodwill Industries to name a few.

And the job seekers were a diverse group, from teachers who had been laid off, to young people wanting to start a career, to older folks looking to change things.

61 year old Thomas Klein is leaving the construction industry, in part, because his body has told him to.

"I want something less physical," he says.

He says he hasn't seen any age discrimination in his search but "is hopeful" he'll find something here.

But his skill set will likely need updating.

"I really know tools so I can sell tools," he says. "But I couldn't sell cell phones."

"I mean I'm an older person," he says.

Jeffrey Brown graduated from the University of Arizona in 1989 with a degree in Business. But after some setbacks and a few years in collections in call centers, he found his skill set has not been updated.

"If you don't keep up your skills, the diploma doesn't mean as much as it used to," he says.

He says for a while the degree was worth the price but "now I'm not so sure."

One of those looking for workers is the truck driving school at Pima College.

A student will pay a $2800 fee up front but "he's guaranteed a job after four weeks," says Dan Offret, an instructor in the program."Our placement is 100%"

Still, it's difficult sometimes for some people to find the upfront costs.

Goodwill Industries is also looking for new hires for entry level and management positions.

Finding trained people is difficult but sometimes in just boils down to matchmaking.

"We hear that from employers but there is training available," says Liz Trulick, from Goodwill Industries. "It's making that match between people who have that interest and matching them up with training that fits their needs."

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