Student job market could suffer because of coronavirus spread
By Thunderword Staff
The coronavirus could negatively affect the kinds of jobs students often seek during the spring and summer seasons, a state official said. "Many of the types of jobs that materialize during the summer are jobs that involve a lot of face-to-face contact with others," said Dr. Anneliese Vance-Sherman, King County regional labor economist for the state Department of Employment Security.
Since the Center for Disease Control is recommending limits on close contact with people, the coronavirus "could be devastating for businesses that rely on in-person customers," Dr. Vance-Sherman said. She cautioned, however, that it's too early to say what the impact will be.
"There are too many unknown variables for me to really answer," Dr. Anneliese
Dr. Vance-Sherman is the regional labor economist for Island, King, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, and Whatcom counties. She said that otherwise the region has been "experiencing a time of strong economic growth." "If we keep seeing the type of job growth that we have been seeing for the past several years, then I think summer demand for employees will be strong," Dr. Vance-Sherman said.
As of right now, King County has an unemployment rate of 2.1 percent, among the lowest in the country.
The unemployment rate of King County is at the lowest it's been in the most recent recorded series, which dates back to 1990, Dr. Vance-Sherman said. Washington state has an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent, more than double that of King County. The national unemployment rate is 3.5 percent.
Some sectors are expected to do better than others. "Some of the highest growth will occur among computer-related occupations, health care related occupations and construction occupations," Dr. Vance-Sherman said.
These occupations aren't seasonal and are more likely to be a career. During the spring and summer months, other sectors see more job growth. "Many of these are temporary jobs in industries such as restaurants, hotels, recreation- related industries, and construction," Dr. Vance-Sherman said At Highline's March 2 job fair, students were looking for both temporary spring and summer jobs, as well as jobs that are career oriented.
The job fair was an opportunity for employers to find workers for the spring and summer seasons, as many students begin looking for part-time or full- time jobs as school finishes up for the year.
A total of 47 employers from a variety of industries connected with students to give them a chance to find a job. Some of the employers who attended the fair were: Wild Waves, VOLT workforce solutions, Department of Justice/ Federal Bureau of Prisons, O'Reilly Auto Parts, Tommy Bahama, YMCA, Farmers Insurance, Ikea, and CSL Plasma.
Some students said they already applied for a job and hope to get hired. "I looked at Puget Sound Window Maintenance. They pay $20 an hour so that's what caught my attention," Enrique Vargas said. "I hope to be hired because I have good attributes. I can work in teams and have a good personality." "I talked with the YMCA staff and they told me they have good opportunities for me," Justin Saldivar said. "I hope to be hired because I need a car, and I think I would be good at the swimming pool position."
Other students said that they are not looking for a job, but they want to see what opportunities there are in the future. "I'm not looking for a job right now, but as future reference," Eva Phan said. "Being a full-time student is my job," Samantha M. said. "I just want to look for a job that I'm passionate about." "I currently work at Starbucks, so I'm not looking for a job," Meliha Omerovic said. "But I'm looking for one for the future." "Honestly I don't need a job right now," Mark Ronson said. "I'm just here to see what I can do in the future."
Many of the employers who came to the job fair said they want to hire people who are reliable, serious and hardworking. "We want to hire people who are business minded and have a drive," said Annmarie Barenchi, a staffing and recruiter coordinator for Farmers Insurance. "Someone who really understand what he's doing and take care of our customers with respect and solidarity is kind of the perfect employee for us," said Darin Barenchi, the Farmers Insurance district manager.
"I think that a good student who has discipline, is serious on what he does, take responsibilities and has a good attitude with clients would be the perfect employee on anything he wants to do," said Emily Winter, a recruiter for Tommy Bahama.
Since many of the companies in attendance were in the medical field, these employers were looking for personable people who are friendly and outgoing. "We want people who have bills to pay and have a friendly outgoing personality," said Jenny Bardwell, a representative for CSL Plasma in Federal Way. The firm specializes in collecting plasma donations from people.
Beyond the desired personalities, the requirements differ from company to company. Some companies require employees to take and pass a drug test. "Employees would need to pass a drug test for every single position," said Alicia Martinez, from the YMCA recruiting team. "We don't do drug tests upon a hiring, but we do random tests when they are already working," said Shantel S. a representative for Wild Waves. "We need people we can trust in." "There are random drug tests for employees who drive," said Brian Hudak, the O'Reilly district manager. "It's hard to find people who want to take care of our customers the way we want to take care of them."
Different types of jobs, information and benefits were presented at the fair held on March 2, where students had the opportunity to attend. At the fair there were various types of jobs, and many companies offer a nursing, home care and childcare positions. While other companies offer security, customer service, and window cleaning positions. Different job companies looked for different characteristics according to the work they offered.
For example, there was a company called Puget Sound Window that involves cleaning exterior glass in high-rise buildings. "We are looking for students who enjoy working outside and are adventurous for this type of work," Megan Ottirstron said. Furthermore, there was a company that offered child
care jobs. The company said that they are looking for students who are energetic and good with children.
Companies that offered customer service positions were looking for students who were good at conversing and friendly. Other companies were looking for students who were responsible and passionate about the job.
However, they were challenged to convince the students. Some companies said the biggest challenge to persuade students is always the pay. "We pay the minimum, while at the fair there are companies that pay more," Cristin Spefford from Wild Waves said. One challenge for the representative from Western State Hospital, was to persuade students mainly in the nursing program, to join. "It is a positive challenge for us and the student because we can train him or her to gain experience in the
nursing area, '' Valerie Taylor from Western State Hospital said.
Also, distance is a challenge for the job Patrick Unabi from Asian Counseling service offered. "We are located in Seattle and it must be difficult for the student to pay rent in Seattle or travel there every day," Unabi said. For other companies, a big challenge was the schedule since some jobs were only full-time positions.
Nevertheless, companies have many advantages to offer. For instance, some companies
have many health benefits. "You will receive great benefits including health, vision, free dental for employees and family, life insurance," Amy Pugh the representative from KWA Home Care said.
"We can be very flexible with the student and accommodate the schedule and the student can continue studying," Emily Briant from Apartment Advantage said. "We offer training so that the student is trained with great experience in customer service," Hartung said.
Staff reporters Marta Barlow,
Seattle Valdivia, and Harry
Espinoza contributed to this
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