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Job fair will target worker shortage in construction

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, July 11, 2014, at 10:55 a.m.
  • Updated Friday, July 11, 2014, at 5:10 p.m.

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A recovering, regional construction industry is prompting a number of disparate groups to partner on an event to recruit workers.

Wichita Area Technical College, Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce and Associated General Contractors of Kansas announced Friday they will hold a Construction Careers Jobs Fair. It will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 26 on the WATC campus at 4004 N. Webb.

The event is free and registration is not required.

More than 20 construction firms will have representatives at the fair, including Hutton Construction.

“Right now, we are very busy, and we need help virtually in all areas,” Hutton Construction president Ben Hutton said. “We’re hoping to find a few good men and women that will be a good fit for us.”

Hutton said the need for skilled workers in his company is broad, including carpenters, foremen, steel erectors and concrete workers.

He thinks that a shortage of workers is an issue beyond his company.

“It is exciting … the need exists,” he said. Hutton added that construction work and jobs are among the first things to go away in a recession and generally among the last to rebound following the end of a recession.

A WATC official said the event is also a way for the school to promote the return of its carpentry technical certificate program.

Joe Ontjes, WATC vice president of marketing and advancement, said the 18-credit-hour program was tabled after the last recession hit, “when the economy doesn’t require that kind of training in any substantial way.”

“This is one that has come back with a fury,” he added. “These construction companies that have been assisting in the planning (of the job fair) need dozens, if not hundreds, of workers.”

Ontjes added that the construction companies participating in the fair are providing not only their own staff to recruit workers, but also are helping to pay for the event, contributing between $250 and $1,000 each.

“The response has been, on the employer side, nothing short of phenomenal,” he said.

Other event organizers include the Workforce Centers of South Central Kansas and the Wichita Area Builders Association.

For more information on the job fair, see watc.edu/construction.

Reach Jerry Siebenmark at 316-268-6576 or jsiebenmark@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jsiebenmark.

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