Job fair offers a step up, or a step out of Toronto

Sherryann Mohammed is hopeful. She has come to the National Job Fair and Training Expo at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre dressed in casual business attire. Resume in hand, she seeks employment in the field of education.

Mohammed is not alone. Over the next 24 hours, thousands of people will wait in line and pay a $3.95 fee in order to get access to the job fair which boasts 170 booths.

Savvy recruiters encourage anyone who stops at their booth to consider employment with their company, getting career training upgrades or even a move across the country. For someone like Mohammed, who recently came to Toronto from Winnipeg, another cross-country move is quite possible.

“I will entertain the possibility (of moving), although that would be a last resort. If job-wise  it turns out well, then yes,” she said.  The married mother of one has been in Toronto for two months and while her husband had no problems finding employment at a financial institute, she hasn’t had very much luck.

“I am not earmarking anything specific,” she said. “I want to see what the job market has to offer.”

Chris Jones-Bonk is looking for someone such as Mohammed; someone who’s willing to relocate. The manager for marketing and communications at the Ministry of Advanced Education, Employment and Labour for Saskatchewan is looking to recruit people to move to his province because of the labour shortage.

“”The bottom line for us is Saskatchewan continues to be in a situation of labour shortage,” he said. “We’re looking for good people who are skilled and educated to come and fill vacancies in Saskatchewan.”

Unfortunately for Mohammed, the lack of jobs isn’t in her field.

“A number of the shortages we’re seeing is in the applied sciences and engineering disciplines,” Jones-Bonk said. He said the fields of opportunity in Saskatchewan are information technology, healthcare, transportation, skilled trades and construction.

Jones-Bonk said his job is to educate those that stop at his booth not only about the job opportunities but also about the lifestyle of someone who lives in his province. He boasts lower rent, auto insurance and food costs as one of the reasons the move to Saskatchewan. “We think we have a pretty good life in Saskatchewan and we’re happy to share that,” he said.

After a couple of hours, Mohammed is ready to call it a day. She has talked to a large amount of booths and while she has had no luck finding a job, she doesn’t consider the time wasted.

“What I’m seeing is the job fair isn’t only about job opportunities. It’s about retraining and education as well, which is the package you might have to get if you want a job, “she said.

David Levesque, the organizer of the National Job Fair and Training Expo, agrees with her point of view.

“We have a bigger training and education pavilion and I feel that it’s probably because people are looking for a second career or have to go back to school or career training specific to a new job,” he said. “We have more which serves the interest of people who are changing careers.”

This is exactly what Mohammed was thinking of doing, and she is pleased with the outcome of the day.

“Because we are in times of recession, I am trying to diversify. I’m also thinking of going back to school,” she said. “I’m looking at employable options.”

Even though she didn’t find success this time around at the job fair, she will have an opportunity to come back in the fall, if she is still here in Toronto.

Filed by Farrah Cole

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