Originally Published: January 4, 2012 10 p.m.
PRESCOTT - The employment situation might be improving for construction workers in the tri-city area, if two job fairs are any indication.
Team Fishel of Columbus, Ohio, conducted a job fair here Wednesday to recruit 32 employees to work on installing fiberoptic phone lines and coaxial cable. The company will hire 150 people statewide because it landed a contract with Century Link (formerly known locally as Qwest), according to Human Resources Manager Fred Ingersoll.
And on Saturday, WorkForce Solutions will conduct a job fair to recruit 60 people to work on installing solar panels at the water Tank Farm and sewer plant in Prescott Valley. The employees will move onto other projects once the Prescott Valley solar installation is completed, said Christine Copeland, director of risk management for Wilson Electric, an affiliated company.
Both companies are taking advantage of an applicant pool that the Northern Arizona Council of Governments Yavapai Workforce Connection supplied. NACOG hosted the job fair from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday for Team Fishel. The job fair for WorkForce Solutions will take place from 7 a.m. to noon Saturday at NACOG, 221 N. Marina St., Suite 101, Prescott.
The placement of two job fairs three days apart might be a sign that the economy is improving, according to Teri Drew, NACOG's regional director. NACOG reported the unemployment rate in Yavapai County dropped from 9.5 percent in October to 9.1 percent in November, the most recent month in which figures are available.
"I think it is a good opportunity, especially for recovering construction workers," Drew said. "One (job fair) is in dry utilities, which is certainly transferable skills. The second job fair is also construction-related."
Drew said about 350 people are registered with the Prescott office of NACOG, adding her staff notified all applicants who meet minimum qualifications to seek work with Team Fishel, WorkForce Solutions or both.
NACOG also recruited applicants to the job fairs through the Arizona Department of Economic Security and the Prescott Chamber of Commerce, Drew said.
The Team Fishel job fair drew 24 in-person applicants as of 12:20 p.m. Wednesday. Drew said Team Fishel received a "significant number of applicants" online.
Team Fishel is recruiting utility laborers, equipment operators and foremen, with hourly pay ranging from $14 to $18 an hour, said Ingersoll, who is based in Chandler. Some jobs require Class A commercial drivers' licenses.
His applicants Wednesday included at least two Prescott residents who are unemployed and not receiving jobless benefits: Bonnie Pennington, 61, and Alex Harnoski, 58.
Pennington said she lost her job as a quality control technician a month ago at the Drake cement plant north of Paulden, where she had worked for a year. She registered at NACOG, and took a résumé-writing class and an assessment test to gauge her skills and interests.
"I have a very strong construction background," Pennington told Ingersoll.
She met with Ingersoll for several minutes, and said afterward that she presented herself for a job in administration, which Ingersoll apparently is not seeking to fill at this time.
Pennington, who is divorced, said she is her sole means of support and does not have any savings.
"When I leave here, I'll go apply to waitress jobs," Pennington said.
Like Pennington, Harnoski said he has been looking hard for a job. He has been out of work since losing a job four months ago after parting company from a medical office where he scheduled appointments with doctors and did data entry.
He said he landed only two interviews before meeting with Ingersoll. His meeting ended quickly because he did not bring a résumé. However, Harnoski said he plans to email a résumé to Team Fishel.
Ingersoll said NACOG staff supplied "a good applicant pool." He added he will hire staff "as soon as we get the right people."
He urged prospective applicants who missed the job fair to apply online at www.teamfishel.com/join-our-team.html or call him at (602) 455-4119.
Meanwhile, WorkForce Solutions is recruiting helpers, apprentices and journeymen electricians for the solar installation project in Prescott Valley. Pay range is $8 to $11 an hour for helpers to $12 to $15 an hour for journeymen. The helper jobs do not require construction experience, while journeymen need two to five years of electrical experience, Copeland said.
For additional information about the job fair, contact NACOG at 778-1422.