CVTC Career Fair Draws Interest from Afar
Manufacturing employers traveling longer distances to recruit
John Grayden knew it was worth the trip from Fridley, Minnesota the moment he stepped into the Industrial Mechanics lab at Chippewa Valley Technical College. The maintenance manager at Kapstone Container Corp. came on a recruiting mission at the CVTC Spring Career Fair looking for those hard-to-find people with diverse skills.
“I saw a student at a motor control station, one at a pneumatics station, one at a pulleys and sprockets station,” Grayden said. “I have all of that in our plant. As soon as I walked in, I was like a kid in a candy store.”
The right people can be hard to find, so companies like Kapstone are willing to extend their reach to Eau Claire to recruit well-trained CVTC graduates. They are not alone. This year for the first time, the largest group of employers recruiting at the Career Fair were at the Manufacturing Education Center, with 54 registered. While the bulk of them were local employers, there were several making their first visit to the Career Fair, coming from places well outside CVTC’s 11-county district.
“The labor market in our area is very competitive, and a lot of candidates don’t have the variety of skills we’re looking for,” said Kapstone Human Resources Manager Serena Emerfoll.
Grayden visited for a time with Austin Card, an Automation Engineering Technology student from Fairchild. “We’re looking for electromechanical and industrial maintenance technicians,” Grayden said, noting that he likes the skills the CVTC students can offer.
Card feels good about how much his skills will be in demand when he graduates in May 2019. But a company like Kapstone will have to compete with local employers like Global Finishing Solutions in Osseo, where Card already has a position on the maintenance crew.
“I like jobs where you do computer and programmable logic control work and also take apart bearings and stuff,” Card said. “It’s in high demand and it’s a good-paying job.”
Katlyn Gollberg and Becky Bloom drove up from Tomah to recruit for USEMCO, a sanitary equipment manufacturer making its first visit to a CVTC Career Fair. They spent some time with welding students Sam Olson of Eau Claire and Noah Keck of Baldwin.
“We’re trying to expand our pool,” Bloom said. “The labor market is tight right now and we’re looking for candidates.”
“We’re looking in the mechanical and electromechanical areas,” Gollberg said. “We’ll take welders and electricians. We build control panels and pumping stations.”
Olson and Keck, who know welding skills can land them jobs from Eau Claire to Baldwin and beyond, are open to recruitment from outside the area.
“I have no problem traveling. I’m young and single and I’ve already moved around a lot in the army,” Olson said. He had been attending a university, but switched to CVTC. “I wanted better job prospects and welding seemed to be a good fit.”
“It’s nice to be close to home, but I wouldn’t mind traveling,” Keck said. “But I might have a job lined up already at Kurt Manufacturing.”
Kurt, a trailer hitch manufacturer in Altoona, hires many CVTC Welding program graduates, often before they even graduate.
Michael Belmonte came representing both Screw Machine Products in Necedah and Northwest Swiss-Matic in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota He was looking for Machine Tooling Technics students, who are also in high demand.
“We hired a couple of students from the program who were from our area and we want to keep that connection,” Belmonte said. “They’re working out real well. They come with good basic knowledge and we groom them.”