Youth Job Center to partner with new organizations for community job fair

Billy Kobin, Reporter

An annual Evanston job fair will be held Thursday in partnership with other organizations for the first time, allowing it to become larger than before.

The Youth Job Center is partnering with the city, Mt. Moriah Lodge #28 and National Able Network to organize the Evanston Community Job Fair from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Levy Senior Center, 300 Dodge Ave.

The job fair this year aims to connect job seekers from different age groups with over 25 employers.

Karen Demorest, executive director of the Youth Job Center, said the partnership between several organizations will enhance the fair, which the Youth Job Center has organized for more than 12 years.

“Instead of us just creating a job fair, we’re really working collaboratively with other organizations to create something that will be focused on both the needs of the population in terms of job seekers and the needs of employer partners,” Demorest said.

Demorest said the Youth Job Center is trying to work with more employers from industries that have room to grow, such as retail, customer service and transportation.

Employers attending the job fair include smaller local organizations as well as national employers with locations in the Chicago area like Home Depot, Kohl’s and Starbucks.

“We try to really target high-growth economic sectors so that we’re working with employer partners … (with) a good stream of open positions available,” Demorest said.

The Youth Job Center has received a response from a large number of employers, Demorest said.

“After the Great Recession five or six years ago, there were just not jobs available,” she said. “And now we’ve got so many employers that are really diligently trying to figure out how they can bring awareness about the opportunities that exist.”

Jeanne Burgmann, the Youth Job Center’s employer outreach coordinator, said she also thinks the new partnership between the Youth Job Center and other organizations is beneficial to the job fair because the Youth Job Center focuses on youth, National Able Network focuses on an older population and the city and the masonic lodge focus on the community.

“I think we benefit from that, from everyone’s connections being diversified,” Burgmann said. “I think that the response that we’ve gotten is … because we have that diversity of connections, and we’re reaching out to a bunch of different organizations and different employers.”

The city has advertised the job fair around Evanston through advertisements in community centers and local businesses as well as through emails, said Maurice Wilkerson, the city’s youth and young adult outreach worker.

“It’s like an open call that we just promote,” Wilkerson said. “(We hope) that we get the unemployed … to come out, meet the employers that are there and hope that they…get hired. That’s the ultimate goal: just to have the unemployed get employed.”

Burgmann and Demorest both said the job fair will attempt to match the different age groups of job seekers with employers.

“We serve as kind of the intersection of the youth and the employer partners where we’re trying to make matches,” Demorest said. “Often times, the youth we serve don’t have a lot of opportunities to understand all the options that are available (for employment).”

Burgmann agreed and said the fair helps the Youth Job Center find people who are struggling to attain jobs.

“I think it’s important for people to understand that there are a lot of opportunities out there right now, and it’s a good time for a fair,” Burgmann said. “It’s a good time to be networking with people and building those relationships and hopefully getting a job if you’re unemployed or underemployed.”

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