On-Air Job Fair Crosses City and County Lines to Fill Jobs in Northern Nevada

Reno and Sparks are among several communities benefitting from an On-Air Job Fair produced by Job Opportunities in Nevada, an independent agency funded by the Northern Nevada Private Industry Council. The two-hour event, aired on northern Nevada’s public television station, listed 170 job orders submitted by 66 area employers. More than 700 calls were received during the show and another 300 came in the following week.

Both employers and job seekers in several northern Nevada communities – including Reno and Sparks, the largest – were the beneficiaries of the area’s first On-Air Job Fair, an initiative that capitalized on the power of television to help meet workforce needs throughout the region.

According to officials with Job Opportunities in Nevada, a community-based workforce development agency serving a 13-county area of northern Nevada, the concept of the television job fair was developed in Minnesota some four years ago and presented at a workforce development conference in Los Angeles in May 1997 which was attended by a member of the JOIN staff. The staff member was excited about the potential for an initiative like this in northern Nevada. Reno and Sparks have enjoyed record low unemployment rates, and employers in the area have had difficulty recruiting qualified workers to support an expansion fueled by a strong economy.

Armed with videotapes, statistics on impact and success stories, JOIN presented the on-air concept to various public workforce agencies and state employment service providers. While initial presentations produced mixed responses, the concept gained acceptance over time as the potential benefits to all involved – employers, job seekers and community workforce development agencies – were realized. When the State’s Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation signed on as co-producer of the event, northern Nevada’s "On-Air Job Fair" was born.

The success of an initiative like this one depends on the ability of its sponsors to bring together a wide range of service agencies within the target area. The production team assembled for the job fair matured over time into an efficient group of seasoned marketers, job developers and salespeople.

The Station -- Northern Nevada’s public television station, KNPB, Channel 5, was approached to televise the event. The station serves much of northern Nevada including the cities of Reno, Sparks, Carson, Fallon, Fernley, Virginia City and Hawthorne. KNPB had never attempted anything quite like this event, but was willing to commit the time, expertise and other station resources to bring the project to the airwaves. Television and radio personalities well known in the area were recruited as "masters of ceremonies" for the event.

Community Support – Community support for the telecast was strong, with 11 Reno-Sparks businesses, many serving customers outside the local area, helping to sponsor it. JOIN officials said their generous financial support made it possible to develop a top-notch publicity campaign that reached a broad base of job seekers. Mayor Bruce Breslow of Sparks contributed by taping a public service announcement for the job fair. An enthusiastic supporter of the program, Mayor Breslow described it as "a great example of what two strong communities and dedicated people can create together."

The Show -- The On-Air Job Fair was a two-hour, live call-in program during which 66 employers from Reno-Sparks, Carson City, Dayton and Fernley listed more than 170 job orders they wanted filled. Included were both entry level and professional positions. Callers learned about the specific jobs that were presented and could apply for a job with one call to the on-air phone number. Trained volunteers from both employers and participating agencies fielded the calls.

The telephones began to ring the minute the show went on and continued after the show had ended. During the 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. show, a total of 715 calls were received. Despite the availability of 21 telephone lines for the show, many of the callers reported that it took them more than 30 minutes to get through, even with their phone set to speed-dial the number. Participating agencies’ profiles were produced for the show and aired several times during the telecast, as were 11 video resumes of job seekers – a showcase for the wide range of area residents available to employers.

The Callers -- An analysis of the calls made to the show reflected a fairly even balance of male and female callers: 367 were female, and the largest number of them were in the 40-44 age range; male callers totaled 348, most in the 20-24 and 40-44 age groups. Just over half of the callers were looking for clerical or sales positions; 27 percent were interested in professional, technical, or managerial positions; 23 percent were interested in machine trades.

The telephone lines were covered by agency staff for one week following the airing of the program. The day after the show aired, 169 calls were taken; nearly 300 calls were received that week.

Reaction – Surveys received from participating area employers following the show reflected its success. Among their comments: "Great! Very well done. You should do the program on a regular basis." "Very well organized!" "It was great and very well organized." "Liked it; this was a good idea." "Great concept, professionally orchestrated." Reno Mayor Jeff Griffin said the job fair reflected his City’s community spirit. According to the Mayor, "The private businesses, nonprofit organizations and government agencies that successfully worked together to link residents of our community to jobs represent exactly the kind of collaborative process we need in our City."

Collaboration – Nevada’s first On-Air Job Fair was the product of public sector collaboration and private sector support. It required blending the talents of staff from: JOIN, an independent agency which receives funding from the Northern Nevada Private Industry Council; ProNet, an arm of JOIN focusing on professional placement; the State Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation and its Vocational Rehabilitation, Employment Security, and Claimant Employment Programs; the State Welfare Division; School to Careers; the Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities; the Sierra Nevada Job Corps; and Truckee Meadows Community College.

"This level of cooperation among state and local employment providers was unprecedented," said Michael McMahon, Human Services Coordinator for Washoe County. "As a result of the success, there is a greater degree of trust between state and local entities. With that trust in place, we can expect to see additional ventures in the future."

Contact: Don Costa, Director, ProNet, (702) 688-1680

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