Job seekers fill Wednesday job fair
More than 140 companies seek workers for empty positions

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff

May 14, 2015

Job seekers crowd the aisles during the Workforce Development job fair at Waukesha County Technical College on Wednesday. 
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff 

PEWAUKEE - Diversity was a word often used to describe the job fair at Waukesha County Technical College on Wednesday - from the mix of employers with booths to the job seekers and their skills.

About 140 companies and 950 job seekers attended the three-hour event held by the Waukesha-Ozaukee-Washington Workforce Development, Inc. that represented various industries, including health care, manufacturing, construction, technology and hospitality.

Teri Zielski, human resources manager for Briggs & Stratton, said she was impressed with the diversity of those in attendance. While Briggs & Stratton was focusing more on finding people to fill manufacturing roles, she said she was getting asked about professional positions as well.

“There’s a good mix of people with specialties,” Zielski said.

For those who stood out as strong potential workers, Zielski was inviting them to a Monday hiring event at Briggs & Stratton in Wauwatosa.

It’s much easier to find an employee to do assembly work than to fill a more technical position like machine maintenance, she said.

Job seekers crowd around the Quad/Graphics booth during the Workforce Development job fair at Waukesha County Technical College on Wednesday.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff 

Briggs & Stratton is expanding its manufacturing operations, Zielski said, and did a round of hiring in January with more rounds likely in June and November.

At the Interstate Sealant & Concrete, Inc. booth, HR Manager Kathy Eckhardt said she was looking for “road warriors” and construction laborers.

There are openings at ISC in Waukesha, although Vice President of Operations Garret Burleson said it can be difficult to find a person with the right job skills to be part of the workforce or a supervisor. It’s also important to him that  they have strong soft skills, such as good manners and dressing appropriately.

Employers are looking for personal responsibility in the workplace, but also in employees’ personal lives, he said.

Work has increased for ISC as the economy has picked up, Burleson said.

A supervisor in the road construction industry can expect to make between $50,000 and $150,000 annually, he said.

“It’s one of the industries that is up to the person and how much you put into it you can get out of it," he said.

Francisco Sanchez, president of the WOW Workforce Development, Inc. Board, said employers had told him they were pleased with the volume and mix of people attending Wednesday’s job fair.

“We try to get people jobs and employers really need people. And that’s more of a priority than anything else," Sanchez said.

Yan Ling is getting a job certificate from WCTC and already has a bachelor’s degree from Australia. Ling said she was nervous Wednesday because English is her second language, but she was hoping to find someone who would offer an accounting internship in order for her to gain more experience.

“There aren’t too many jobs in accounting,” she said about what she was finding at the job fair.

Christina Salimes of Brookfield attended the job fair with Holli Bastow of Waukesha. Salimes, a Carroll University graduate with a degree in psychology and communications, said she was open to anything. Positions at Fred Astaire Dance Studio at Roundy’s appealed to her.

A debate she has been having with friends is whether to hold out for a better job or to take something for which you are overqualified.

Bastow said she was checking out the job fair Wednesday so she could be properly prepared when the next one is held.

She said it has been difficult to find the right job that pays well and has opportunities to move up in the company with her artistic skills set.