News Column

El Paso Job Fair Aimed at Veterans, Families

Nov. 13, 2012

David Burge, El Paso Times, Texas

Veterans learn valuable skills while in the military, but sometimes struggle to find work or translate those skills to civilian life, said organizers of a veterans job fair.

Thursday, a series of job fairs -- called Hiring Red, White & You! -- will be held across the state of Texas to help veterans, active-duty military transitioning to civilian life and their spouses find work.

Here in El Paso, the job fair will be from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Norman Haley Employment Center, 300 E. Main in Downtown.

Across the state, 28 local workforce development boards will have veterans job fairs on the same day. In El Paso, the fair is being organized by Workforce Solutions Upper Rio Grande.

Statewide, the fairs are a partnership between the Texas Workforce Commission, the local workforce development boards, the Texas Veterans Commission and the Texas Medical Center.

Anyone can attend, but the event is primarily geared toward helping veterans and their spouses, said Bernadette Flores, public affairs coordinator with Workforce Solutions Upper Rio Grande. It is free for both employers and job-seekers.

Ninety-nine employers that have immediate job openings totaling nearly 1,800 jobs will attend the El Paso fair, said Workforce Solutions Upper Rio Grande Chief Executive Officer Lorenzo Reyes.

More than 1,000 job-seekers are expected to attend.

The idea is to bring employers and veterans together under one room in a "one-stop shop," Reyes said.

Employers include Army and Air Force Exchange Service, the city of El Paso, El Paso Independent School District, El Paso Community College, FirstLight Federal Credit Union, Home Depot, the Hobbs, N.M., Police Department, Raytheon, the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Gas Service and University Medical Center.

Veterans have a number of skills that make them valuable employees, Reyes said.

"They know how to work well under pressure," he said. "They have strong leadership skills and can work in teams."

The challenge is translating those skills they learned in the military to civilian work, Reyes said.

Flores said employers who will attend the event are in targeted industries that can use the skills veterans have.

Brandon Williams is a former first lieutenant in the Army. He served for six years, leaving the service in January 2012. His last duty assignment was with the 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss.

Williams said he's been working in the oil fields in the Odessa-Midland area but wants to find something closer to El Paso. He plans to attend Thursday's job fair.

"Military veterans usually have one or two particular specialities they are trained in, whether it's computers, mechanics, engineering, contracting and many other things," Williams said. "I definitely feel in our upper NCOs (noncommissioned officers) and officers, there are leadership qualities along with management and time management skills."

Flores urged job-seekers to dress professionally, be ready to get interviewed and bring plenty of copies of resumes.

Source: (c)2012 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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