Fri, May 24, 2024

Hanging out the “Help Wanted” sign

The year may be new, but the struggle to find employees is a carryover from last year. Area employers are hoping job fairs will fill in the gaps.

Goodwill Industries recently held an event at The Hub. The Richmond County School System held several during the 2023 summer holiday. The North Augusta Community Center hosted a job fair sponsored by SC Works, the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce’s online resource for job seekers, in August.

Two departments in Columbia County will use upcoming job fairs to fill open positions.

Columbia County Fire Rescue (CCFR) will host both events at Fire Headquarters, 3910 Desoto Drive in Martinez. The first will be Saturday, Jan. 6 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

“We used to rely heavily on volunteers, now, we’re strictly paid firefighters,” said Firefighter, Tony Holt, who oversees recruiting and retention. “Retention is not what it used to be, so we thought we could entice people to think about the fire service as a career.”

Applicants must be at least 18 years old with a high school diploma or GED. There will be a background screening and drug test. Those hired will go through 30 weeks of paid training in two academies.

“One is the basic EMT program which introduces them to the knowledge and skills required to pass a national test and get your EMS license to work as an EMT in the state,” explained Training Chief, David Dickenson. “The other half of the basic training is our firefighter training, which includes everything from fighting fires, dealing with hazardous materials, dealing with vehicle extrication, and removing victims from buildings that can’t remove themselves.”

Dickenson advised anyone interested in joining Fire Rescue to begin rigorous physical training because that is a critical component of the department’s training program.

A second job fair will be held Thursday, Jan. 11 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) will also participate in that event.

“We’re looking for all positions,” said Sgt. Danny Massey. “We don’t hire straight for road patrol, unless you are already certified, and most people are not walking around already Georgia certified. We recruit more for the jail or dispatch, get their feet in the door, and go from there.”

As with Fire Rescue, applicants interested in the Sheriff’s Office must be at least 18 years old, able to pass a background check and drug screening.

“You don’t have to have any experience because we’ll train you as you go along the way. I mean, if you had experienced that’s great, and it’ll work to your benefit,” said Massey. “But we’ve had some of the best officers turn out that haven’t had any experience. They just grasp on and catch on and they become great officers.”

There will also be an open house at fire headquarters during both job fairs, said Danny Kuhlmann, Operations Chief for CCFR.

“It will be a show for everything, all the fire trucks and aerial trucks and the rescue trucks will be displayed,” he said. “The command vehicle will be displayed. We’ll bring in some of our Special Operations-type stuff. The Hazardous Materials team has a display of the equipment that they use. The swift water rescue team has the equipment displayed and the dive team.”

Anyone unable to attend the job fairs can apply online at:

The CSRA is not alone in the challenge to hire employees. A recent report by Manpower found that businesses around the globe also face hiring struggles.

The ManpowerGroup Talent Shortage Study followed a survey of more than 40,000 countries, including the U.S., Canada, Sweden, and Japan. It found that 75% of global employers are still reporting staff shortages. At 85%, Japan had the highest number of businesses looking for employees. The U.S. came in slightly below the global average with 70%.

The full ManpowerGroup study is available at:

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