WINNSBORO — Partnership between county departments and the local faith community gave veterans and their dependents an opportunity to network in hopes of finding employment this holiday season and beyond.
The Fairfield County Veterans Affairs Office, Fairfield County WIA and Fairfield County employment liaison produced a job fair that also contained a health and wellness component.
“Things are going well (with these efforts thus far),” Fairfield County Liaison Jackie Workman said. “People getting employed and bringing income into the county, which was one of the things I was hired on to help do.”
Statistics back up Workman’s assessment. In January 2013, Fairfield County unemployment was 12.1 percent. As of October 2013, the rate is down to 7.9 percent. The 7.9 percent rate, however, is still higher than the state rate of 7.2 percent but the gap is narrowing from a January gap of nearly three percentage points, 12.1 percent to 9.3 percent.
Workman said she was impressed by the crowd at the job fair. She thanked Zion Hopewell Baptist Church and Mt. Moriah Methodist for helping sponsor the event that was held at the county recreation department.
The job fair was part of a concerted effort by the county to bridge the gap between employers and those looking for work. To date the workforce liaison has made 209 contacts with potential employers and of those, 77 people were hired, a placement percentage or 36.84.
The average starting wage for those employees was $15.35 per hour. Local hires included 42 people in Winnsboro, 10 in Ridgeway, seven in Jenkinsville, two in Great Falls and 22 people in Blair. Counties served include Newberry, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lexington, Richland and Chester.
Business representatives and education recruiters said that there were more community members job hunting than veterans, though there were a dozen or so veterans and their dependents who came out to meet prospective employers.