Job fairs for veterans have become less about desperation and more about advancement in recent years, prompting many such events to open their doors to anyone who needs a job or career.
That’s the target audience of the Hiring Red, White & You! Job Fair, which is hosting its fourth annual career day Thursday at Globe Life Park in Arlington, 1000 Ballpark Way.
But the veteran is still its focus, said Sal Adamski, a retired Navy chief petty officer who has worked 24 years finding work for veterans.
“The veteran employment rate is lower than it has been in years,” said Adamski, a staff member of Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County. “Who we normally attract could be newly transitioned from the military. But also they could be veterans who have gone back to school and upgraded their skills, or they could be working at below their skill level and feel they could be working at a better job.”
The opportunities are also open to veterans’ spouses and family.
“So many of them have been taking care of the veteran and not concentrating on their own careers,” said Laurie Larrea, president of Workforce Solutions of Greater Dallas.
All 28 regional Workforce Solutions boards that work for the Texas Workforce Commission across the state are hosting job fairs the same day. The boards representing Tarrant County, Greater Dallas and North Central Texas, the 13 counties surrounding DFW, have joined forces to conduct the job fair in Arlington.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ research bears that out. In 2014, the unemployment rate for military veterans of all service periods was 5.3 percent — or 573,000 veterans — compared with 6.6 percent in 2013, according to the bureau. Both are slightly higher than the overall Texas unemployment rate in those years, which dropped from 6.2 to 5.1 percent.
Adamski said the jobs picture was much worse when he got into the workforce business in 1991, a period of deep layoffs at General Dynamics, Comanche Peak and the shutdown of the last airline using the name Braniff International Airways.
Last year at Red, White & You — all four years have been at the ballpark — 1,500 job-seekers turned out, including about 500 veterans, said event spokeswoman Lacey Douglas. There were 124 on-site hires, but there are no numbers of how many job offers occurred later, she said.
Douglas said the three floors of rooms at the ballpark will be packed with 283 employers, which she said is causing a “wildfire” of interest.
Veterans who register in advance at 2015rwyjobseeker.eventbrite.com will be first in line when doors open at 9 a.m. after an 8:45 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony. Veterans will be wearing flag wristbands to make them easier for the employers to spot. And they do look for them, Douglas said.
“Many of them are veteran-focused companies,” she said. “The are committed to hiring veterans. So they look for those flag wristbands.”
And the skill sets of veterans are no joke — like the one about the job-seeking sailor who bemoaned that he wasn’t finding much demand for underwater demolition men.
“Companies have stepped up to hire more veterans, because they know the skills they bring to the table,” Adamski said. “Reliability, the leadership, the team-building — those are very important skills that all employers are looking for, especially for management.”
The Texas Workforce Commission reports that since launching Hiring Red, White, & You, “the events have connected more than 31,000 veterans with over 4,700 employers.”
Larrea said the job fair is reaching out especially to underemployed veterans and their families.
“We hope they will make arrangements to take the day off and join us,” she said.
Veterans Day at UT Arlington
UTA has a full day of events Wednesday to honor its military men and women, starting with an early morning rendition of reveille.
Here is what’s going on:
▪ 6:30 a.m.: A student trumpeter will sound the familiar — and often dreaded — hard-charging wake-up call in the College Hall courtyard, 600 S. West St., followed by a wreath-laying ceremony.
▪ 11 a.m.: The Student Veterans Organization at UTA will cut a ribbon to open the newly remodeled Vet Lounge in Room 216 of the Central Library, 702 Planetarium Place.
▪ 2 p.m.: UTA President Vistasp Karbhari and state Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, will be headline speakers at a reception for UTA veteran students, faculty and staff in the Carlisle Suite of the E.H. Hereford University Center, 300 W. First St. Also, the the a cappella singing group Arlington Goodtimes Chorus will perform. And the National Student Veteran Honor Society, SALUTE, will have its inaugural induction.