AUGUSTA, Maine — Hundreds of people looking at thousands of available jobs -- that’s the short description of Thursday’s Hire-A-Vet job fair in Augusta, the fifth year the Maine Department of Labor has pushed employers to focus on hiring military veterans.
And this year’s event was really for all job-seekers, because Maine’s bustling economy needs them.
The Augusta Civic Center was packed, with more than 200 employers of all kinds hoping to attract new employees. One of the organizers of the event says the employers at the fair had a combined total of 10,000 available jobs.
Maine’s unemployment rate is low, around three percent, and Maine Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman says the rate among veterans is even lower. The size of the job fair may be one more sign of Maine’s workforce challenge, with so many businesses all over the state struggling to hire workers. Veterans and non-veterans alike said they are encouraged.
“I’ve been looking on line and seen a lot of opportunities in the administrative field,” says Jenna, an Air Force veteran with a background in Administration.
Bob King is not a veteran but is an experienced millwright looking for something new -- and he, too. said the jobs are out there.
“I’m being a little choosy right now,” King said of his search. “Don’t want to take a job for six months and say I don’t like it. I want to pick something that will be my last job.”
Few employers were attracting more interest than Bath Iron Works, largely because HR director Jon Mason says they have a lot of jobs to fill.
“We need to hire over a thousand employees this year, do it again next year and we have stable hiring into the future”, Mason tells NEWS CENTER Maine. He says those jobs cover all aspects of the shipyard. And besides the current contracts for ships, BIW is also expecting a lot of retirements the next few years, as its long time workforce goes through a generational change.
That may be good news for Greg Whitney, who recently came home to Maine after more than four years in the Marine Corps.
“I’m looking mostly to pursue my career as a welder,” he said -- then commented that he is finding a lot of companies that want what he has to offer.