DVAL NEWS: Expo organizers hope to change misconceptions about area career options Read more: Deerfield Valley News – Expo organizers hope to change misconceptions about area career options

By Rolf Parker
Posted October 19, 2015


WINDHAM COUNTY- Dave Alstadt, coordinator of the Windham Workforce Investment Board, knows that there is a perception among many people in southeastern Vermont that there are very few quality jobs in the area. That is why he is excited to help bring the Career Expo to life.

“The Career Expo is much more than a jobs fair,” he said, “There will certainly be employers looking to recruit workers. We have over 40 employers, and each one of them has listed specific jobs that they are looking to fill. But the reason this is an expo and not merely a jobs fair is that the goal is also to inform people that there are options, and there are career paths to follow, that they can start, right here, where we live.”

The expo is made possible from a grant from the Vermont Department of Labor and other sponsors.

It features employers and other exhibitors from such diverse fields as health care, hospitality, manufacturing, and more. Alstadt said that many people could benefit from being more open to working in settings that they might not originally have thought they had the right skills for. For example, working in a hospital could mean working as a writer of press releases.

Manufacturing was one area that Alstadt thought was largely misunderstood by many people who could potentially thrive in that work world. He urged people away from two common misconceptions. The first was that getting a job with a manufacturer inherently means working in an assembly line doing menial work. “There are exciting opportunities. Working in manufacturing can mean performing highly technical operations using computerized machines,” he said.

The other misconception is that only people with highly technical degrees are hired by manufacturing companies. “Companies provide training. In some cases, having good basic math skills, or being mechanically inclined, could be enough to help you get in the door. Entry level positions can lead to great jobs.”

Laura Sibilia, a specialist in regional economic development at the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC), agreed.

“I was just at Sonnax Corporation, in Bellows Falls,” said Sibillia. “They are hiring people, and they train from within. People can make from $33,000 to $55,000 a a year with benefits. Because this is an employer-owned company, there is a lot of job security. These are great jobs but some of these companies have a hard time finding people who will apply.”

Alstadt said that one educational opportunity available during the expo is that people who talk with employers about what education they might need to start or switch careers, could pursue more information from colleges. “A person might go to employer X and then go to college Y for more information.”

This year, students from area middle schools, including eighth-grade students from Twin Valley, are going to the expo. They will go on a tour before the expo is open to the general public.

In addition to the Career Expo, this year there is also a “career social” at Duo Restaurant. The function of the social is to give people a chance to meet local entrepreneurs for tips and inspiration, Alstadt said. “We know that some people in southeastern Vermont are succeeding at creating their own jobs,” he said. “The social is meant to be a friendly way for interested people to meet successful entrepreneurs from the area.”

The Career Expo will be held at the Brattleboro Union High School gym, and is open to the public from 1 to 5 pm on Thursday, October 22. The Career Social is at Duo Restaurant in Brattleboro, from 5:30 to 7 pm. More information about the expo can be found www.vermontcareerexpo.com.

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