With a still-growing total of 43 booths, this week’s career fair promises to present a wide variety of opportunities to students in Hay River and those coming in from all over the South Slave Feb. 26 and 27 at Diamond Jenness Secondary School.
“It’s everything you could possibly want,” said organizer Lesli Ward. “All kinds of industries, we’ve got universities and trades schools coming in, and government departments, too.”
While exhibitors were approached more than a month ago to sign up, Ward said she was getting requests for booth space right up until the last days before the fair. She said the excitement was contagious and proved that there is a great need for skilled, young workers in the Northern job market.
While Ward is doing a lot of the leg-work, the South Slave Divisional Education Council (SSDEC) is the force behind the operation, bringing in both potential employers and educators from around the NWT and northern Alberta, as well as students from across the South Slave.
“The SSDEC is very invested in our youth and in our community,” said Ward. “But what we really want to see is young people making the decision to invest in themselves. You can’t just walk into an $80,000 a year job, you have to pay your dues first.”
Workers with the NWT’s Mine Training Society, one of the organizations exhibiting at the fair, maintain their goal is to increase awareness of the jobs that are available in the North, and then help likely candidates take the necessary steps to fill them.
“Some people in smaller communities aren’t really sure what kind of work there is to do at a mine,” said the society’s job coach, Jessica Enzoe Riddle. “We just want to show students what jobs are available and provide information about how to get them.”
Enzoe Riddle also said events like the career fair are good opportunities to get out into the communities, meet people, and make contacts.
“We’re trying to attend more fairs like this,” she said. “We want to start the students on their career path while they’re still in school, and when they decide, we can help them with whatever path they choose.”
In addition to learning how to earn, attendees will also get a lesson in spending, as Shelley Maher is scheduled to give a talk on the five biggest mistakes people make with money and how to avoid them. There will also be an ever-popular rendition of the hit television show Dragon’s Den, in which students pitch their ideas to select community members in exchange for cash.
“There are a bunch of organizations in town pitching in for this,” said Ward, adding that the Dragon’s Den is put on annually by the local Rotary Club. “That’s what makes it a strong event, the whole community gets in on it.”
The school’s mechanical shop will play host to a regional Skills Canada competition the second day of the event, in which pre-registered participants will contest their abilities in a variety of trades. Ward said she not only expects local businesses to come out to see potential future employees, but also that actual job offers could be made on the spot.
“The reality is that we’ve got an aging workforce and the baby-boomers are retiring in droves,” she said. “If you look at who is in management right now, and you look at who is coming up to replace them, you can see there are lots of positions to be filled. I just want young people to see that and invest in themselves for their future.”