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Thursday February 2nd

Looking for a job? Wake County job fair set to fill employment gaps in tourism industry

<p>Orange County hosted a job fair in September at University Place in Chapel Hill.&nbsp;</p>
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Orange County hosted a job fair in September at University Place in Chapel Hill. 

Visit Raleigh is hosting the first annual Wake County Restaurant and Hotel Job Fair Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Raleigh Convention Center.

The job fair is free to the public and designed to fill more than 3,500 full and part time positions in Wake County. The fair has almost 80 vendors attending.

Dennis Edwards, the president and CEO of Visit Raleigh, said the tourism industry in Wake County has expanded and employers need help finding workers to fill their vacancies.

“There’s always a demand for jobs, and one of the major concerns we keep hearing from our hotels and restaurants is workforce,” he said. “It seems like a win-win all the way around. We’re seeing an average of 800 new jobs a year just in the tourism sector in Wake County alone, so there’s definitely a lot of opportunity here."

Edwards said college and high school students could benefit from the job fair’s openings.

“I think we’ll see a combination of both types of college students: those who recently graduated who are looking for full time employment — there are some managerial positions that will be available — all the way to those who are looking for part-time work over the summer,” he said. “There will be opportunities for any college student, whether they’re looking for part time or full time work.”

Visit Raleigh said in a statement tourism is a $2.4 billion industry in Wake County, the highest it has ever been.

Edwards said many of the industry’s vacancies are due to part-time job turnover because entry level positions are much more sensitive to wage changes.

In the statement, Visit Raleigh said the job fair can assist a wide range of interested workers.

“Whether you’re looking for work right now or are trying to move out of a career you’re currently in to follow a passion, or get into a field with more upward mobility, this job fair is for you,” the statement said. “We also know many people today are supplementing their incomes with secondary jobs, and the tourism and hospitality sector is also great for that.”

The tourism and hospitality industries account for a large portion of the Wake County workforce, and is still growing, Edwards said. 

According to Visit Raleigh, the tourism industry employs more than 63,000 people in Wake County — around 10 percent of the county’s workforce. The industry is expected to grow by 9 percent over the next five years.

Edwards said he thinks there are enough people in Wake County to fill the industry’s growing labor needs, but the issue has been connecting the workforce to the employers. He said he hopes the job fair will prove to be effective and continue in coming years.

“We’ve actually been planning this for almost nine months now. Now that we’ve got the first one under our belt, I think we’ve got the template set,” he said. “I’m sure the planning process will take another nine months, but now we’ve got a bit of a template in terms of what works and what doesn’t, so I don’t think it’ll take as much time to put together as it did the first one.”

GoRaleigh and GoTriangle buses will be offering free passes to anyone interested in attending the job fair.


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