SANSHIA Hayles attended her first job fair last Thursday and was impressed, not only because of the smooth process, but due to the fair treatment she received as a Jamaican living with a disability.
The 27-year-old, who is visually impaired, was among scores of people who engaged in the two-day job fair, which was held last Wednesday and Thursday by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security under its Labour Market Information System at its office in Kingston.
Hayles told the Jamaica Observer that the job fair initially piqued her interest as she wanted to ensure she was working during the summer when she gets a break from school.
"I came to find a job because I don't like the idea of staying at home and not going anywhere when school is on holiday. I wanted something to do for the summer and permanently perhaps," said Hayles, who is a final-year student at Jamaica Theological Seminary.
After doing three interviews, she said she was satisfied with the accommodations offered.
"I am also elated and very much pleased with the acceptance when doing interviews. I was given a chance to be expressive, so they could understand how best I can perform and not being discriminatory, not showing that in their attitude or even in the way they ask their questions. I didn't feel that way at all," a smiling Hayles said.
Several companies seeking employees were at the job fair, including Domino's, Knutsford Express, Wisynco Group, Island Grill, Hawkeye, and KFC Jamaica.
Some of the jobs available were fast-food chain cooks, packers, cashiers, marketing managers, accounting clerks, paralegals and administrative assistants.
Throughout the day job seekers waited patiently under tents with their documents before being referred to employers for interviews.
Nekeshia Warren, a mother of three, said she became aware of the job fair on seeing a flyer on social media.
"As a mother, you have responsibilities and once something is not working out, you try other things. There are a lot employers, so you just have to see what will work for you," she said.
Asked whether she had thought the flyer was a scam, Warren said, "I know that once you see any ministry hosting something you know it's legitimate."
Earlier this year there were a number of fake employment fairs.
The latest swindle occurred in February when hundreds of job seekers turned up at Girl Guides headquarters on Waterloo Road, St Andrew, for what was purportedly a Canadian job fair. They were left disappointed after being told that no such job fair was being hosted on the premises.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, another job seeker, Haniel Mercurious, told the Observer that he did a few interviews and was hoping he will be successful in getting a job.
"I am not employed and want a job. I am expecting to get a call for another interview or to get a job. I am excited to learn new skills," he said.
Director of the Electronic Labour Exchange at the ministry, Lyndon Ford, said approximately 150 people came out on Wednesday and that number doubled on Thursday.
"So far, employers said they have been getting some good persons. Notwithstanding, a part of the thing that the ministry is doing is to see how best we can formulate partnerships because we would have understood that there is a need for soft skills," Ford said, noting that most of the job seekers were between ages 18 and 35.
Meanwhile, director of manpower services at the ministry, Andrea Miller-Stennett, encouraged more young people to attend future job fairs hosted by the ministry.
"We went young people to come out to the areas we are doing the fairs and get something to do. You can even get a little experience before going off to university. We will be doing this in every region," said Miller-Stennett.