Janesville29.6°

Upcoming job fair aims at Rock County veterans

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
April 17, 2010
— Under the best economic circumstances, it can take returning military veterans weeks of legwork to transition back into the local job market.

But when your hometown has an unemployment rate of at least 13 percent, job hunting is an even tougher task.


Rock County Job Center Veteran Employment representative Dale Belke said it now takes veterans returning to the area three months or longer to find work. He said that’s twice as long as it took returning veterans to find jobs in 2007, before the start of the current recession.


“I’ve worked for the state for 34 years, and I’ve never seen it like this before,” Belke said.


The U.S. Department of Labor reports that in 2009, 21.9 percent of young veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan were unemployed. That outpaces even Beloit’s overall 18 percent unemployment rate—the worst jobless rate for any city in Wisconsin.


Belke said in the face of rampant layoffs and local business closures, even highly skilled veterans with re-employment rights are scuffling for work.


“So many good workers are hunting for work now. It’s veterans mixed with non-veterans. It’s just a lot of competition for very few jobs,” Belke said.


Despite the grim job market, there is support for returning veterans. On May 7, local vets can attend the Rock County Veterans Job Fair at the Janesville Army National Guard Armory.


The job fair is free and runs all day. It will allow veterans to learn about job opportunities through local employers and local federal agencies. Veterans can leave resumes and job applications with employers at the job fair.


At the event, veterans also can market their skills during short interviews with employers. Belke said as many as 25 companies and employment agencies could be at the job fair, including employers in information technology, machine operations and services. Some direct-hire positions could be available.


The fair also will host information sessions about finance, health care and education, along with a chance for veterans to apply for federal and state benefits.


Agencies attending the job fair include:


- Wisconsin Job Center Veterans.


- Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs.


- County Veteran Service.


For job seekers, Belke acknowledged job fairs can be as nerve-wracking as they are helpful.


“It’s stressful. It can feel like a make-or-break situation. The reality is, the person who makes the best impression gets the job,” he said.


Veterans who want to prepare for the May 7 job fair or other job interviews can attend weekly resume writing and interviewing workshops at the Rock County Job Center at 1900 Center Ave., Janesville, Belke said.


“We’ll help any way we can. We want to put people in a position to make the best impression possible,” he said.


IF YOU GO


What: Rock County Veterans Job Fair


When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday.


Where: Janesville Army National Guard Armory, 11 Palmer Dr.


Cost: Free


Who’s invited: Military veterans


What to bring: Resume (several copies), DD form 214, VA Disability Letter.


For more information: Call Dale Belke at (608) 741-3523 or Charles Jones at 608-741-3522.



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