Career Life Expo: More than a job fair

For many, there are more obstacles to finding a job than drafting a resume. Lack of transportation, lack of affordable childcare, lack of stable housing, lack of experience in interviewing  -- any one of these hurdles can undermine a person’s ability to get hired and keep working.
 
The Career Life Expo, created through a partnership with United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region and Michigan Works! Southwest was designed to assist those who need help over the hurdles.

It will have local employers that are hiring and service agencies to help job seekers with other needs that get in the way of working. And it will also feature social service agencies to help job seekers with the challenges that get in the way of working. 

“Southwestern Michigan has companies that are hiring and qualified people eager to work,” says Eric Stewart, Administrator for Michigan Works! Southwest. “A run-of-the-mill job fair can connect those two groups. What makes the Career Life Expo different is its ability to help people address other issues that keep them from being able to work.”

Matt Lynn, Vice President of Community Impact for United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region, says linking employment and support services is vital to helping people become financially stable.

“Nearly 39 percent of households in our region are what we call ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed),” said Lynn. “These are hard-working people who have jobs and yet struggle to make ends meet. Many are already in poverty. One car repair or one sick child can cause them to miss work, get behind on rent or utilities, maybe even cost their
employment.

“We want to help people resolve those problems. We also want to help local businesses fill job openings so they can be successful. That strengthens the local economy and benefits everyone,” Lynn added.

The Career Life Expo takes place Tuesday, Feb. 20, from noon to 4 p.m., at Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo. More than 80 area employers will be there to conduct interviews for hundreds of job openings. As jobseekers enter the building, they’ll be greeted by representatives from several area service agencies to help them with everything from building their resumes to finding affordable child care.

The first hour of the Expo will be a VIP session for anyone who has served in the armed forces and for anyone with a disability. All job seekers will be welcomed starting at 1 p.m. Sponsors of the Career Life Expo include United Way, Michigan Works! Southwest, Wings Event Center, AmeriFirst Home Mortgage, and Midwest Communications.

Free transportation is available from Michigan Works! service centers in Kalamazoo (1601 S. Burdick St., pick up 12:30 p.m., drop-off 3:15 p.m.) and Battle Creek (200 W. Van Buren St., pick up 11:30 a.m., drop-off 4:15 p.m.).

Questions about the Expo can be directed to Michigan Works! Southwest, (269) 383-2536 or careerservices@miworkssw.org. Updates on the event are found at www.changethestory.org/category/blog/career-life-expo

Source: United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region, Rick Chambers & Assoc.
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