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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, January 26, 2002

3,000 take hopes for jobs to O'ahu recruiting fair

By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer

Ruel Reyes, of O'ahu WorkLinks, puts information provided by Linda Morishita into a jobs database.

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser

In another sign of Hawai'i's troubled visitor industry, more than 3,000 wannabe workers yesterday hooked up with job recruiters from Altres to Zippy's at a job fair that lacked a single hotel or tour company looking to hire.

"For the first time there are no hotels, nothing in the visitor industry," said Beth Busch, who helped organize Kokua O'ahu at the Neal Blaisdell Center. "It's an indication that tourism obviously is not doing well."

Recruiters from 54 companies brought hundreds of applications and job openings from pizza drivers to middle managers, but few immediate offers of employment.

"It's very hard to get a job offer here," Busch said. "But you can certainly get an interview."

Yesterday's combination job fair/small business workshop was the second put on by the mayor's office and the O'ahu Workforce Investment Board since Sept. 11.

The unemployed came to the Blaisdell yesterday with resumés and months of discouraging efforts at finding work in a market that has grown incredibly tight since thousands of workers lost jobs in the tourism industry after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The state had 11,000 fewer jobs last month than it did in December 2000. Many tourism related companies — including DFS Hawai'i, Hawaiian and Aloha airlines, American Classic Voyages — laid off employees after the terror attacks.

Greta Carbonero, 27, has been filling out applications all over O'ahu, gotten four interviews and one job offer that didn't fit. She gave birth to a son on Aug. 25 and tried to re-enter the market just as companies began laying off workers.

"When I mention that I have a 5-month-old baby, people aren't interested anymore," she said.

Carbonero spent much of yesterday talking to "pretty much everybody here" and still had no solid leads. "It's really discouraging," she said.

Glenn Prieto has been applying for marketing jobs since he graduated from the University of Hawai'i last month and left yesterday's job fair with little optimism.

He figures he now has two options. "Move to Mainland or go back to college," he said. "There aren't too many positions for what I want in Hawai'i."

The most popular site was at the center of the Blaisdell, where an estimated 80 percent of job seekers looked for hope through O'ahu WorkLinks, a nonprofit program administered by the city. O'ahu WorkLinks counselors sat next to job candidates and tapped into 14 computer terminals linked to a data base of Hawai'i job openings.

They couldn't promise jobs, but offered leads that might produce a job, said Frank Grinnage, one of WorkLinks team members.

Big companies such as Bank of Hawaii had 60 openings evenly divided between entry-level teller positions and middle managers. And the Honolulu Police Department — recently hit by the retirements of more than 80 officers — passed out 200 applications for dispatcher jobs and another 100 for police recruits.

Sherri Cropper has a psychology degree and seven years of customer service experience. Yet, she got no nibbles from the 26 job applications she filled out before yesterday. Cropper, 26, came to the Blaisdell looking for the customer service job that has eluded her since the Army transferred her husband to Hawai'i nine months ago.

She found hope not in customer service, but in the possibility of a job as a dispatcher for the Honolulu Police Department, a job that starts at $2,115 per month.

"I have the qualifications," Cropper said. "This sounds good. ... Actually, it sounds excellent."

Reach Dan Nakaso at dnakaso@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8085.