Elkhart digital job fair links potential employees to employers

Some local businesses held a digital job fair in Elkhart. // WSBT 22 Photo

“It eliminates another barrier for people to be able to apply for jobs,” said Levon Johnson, president and CEO of the Elkhart Chamber of Commerce.

There was a new approach Thursday in battling an on-going problem in Elkhart County, the struggle to find enough workers.

Some local businesses held a job fair, this one was entirely digital. This lets them look for workers virtually anywhere.

The State Department of Workforce Development says this digital job fair was the third the department has hosted.

This one for Elkhart County was the biggest. Johnson is hoping it'll make it easier for potential employees and employers to link up.

"The economy is good for Elkhart right now. The unemployment rate is very low," Johnson said.

It sounds like a good thing at first, but that low unemployment rate makes it hard to find new employees. Companies have tried plenty of in-person job fairs, but attendance is often low. That's where digital job fairs come in.

"People have all kinds of situations in their lives today with transportation and families and other conflicts and those types of things. So we just thought that trying these digital job fairs would give people more flexibility and allow them to participate without having to deal with a lot of the other issues they sometimes have to deal with," said Dave Shatkowski, director of communications for the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

"If we have the technology in this day and age, obviously you need to use it," said Johnson.

Employers don't just want local workers.

"You've got to look for places outside of this region to bring in more workforce," said Johnson.

"Certainly our hope was to go beyond state lines and it looks like through this initial attempt, that was successful," said Shatkowski.

More than 100 people logged in to Thursday's digital job fair, some from as far away as Missouri, Kentucky and Wisconsin.

"When we hear about people outside of Elkhart looking at Elkhart not only for work, but this is going to be a place where they're going to come and live and play and bring their families. That's absolutely exciting for the area," said Johnson.

Shatkowski says he's still waiting for feedback on the job fairs from employers, but he's excited about the concept and says it has a lot of potential.

"I think based on what we've gathered in the last 24 hours or so, it's definitely something that we're going to continue to pursue and there are certain other areas of the state that we'd be interested in bringing this to," said Shatkowski.

To make these digital job fairs even more accessible, they're recorded.

Shatkowski says he encourages everyone to register for them, even if they don't think they'll be able to tune in during the online presentation.

The recording still allows potential employees to hear what future employers have to say later on.

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