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Thousands seek new jobs at massive Las Vegas employment fair

Updated July 10, 2021 - 1:12 pm

Mark Ancheta, a 25-year-old Las Vegas resident, said he’s tired of his “frustrating” warehouse job and looking for a career change and pay raise.

“With rents and the cost of living rising, I don’t know if I can make it out there,” he said. “I want something fulfilling, but I also need to pay the bills.”

On Friday, Ancheta was one of several thousand people seeking a job at Clark County’s Summer Job Fair.

The job fair, which took place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Las Vegas Convention Center’s new West Hall, featured more than 125 employers offering more than 14,000 open positions.

Companies such as Amazon, Tesla and Walmart and several gaming properties were at the job fair — the first in-person and large-scale job fair since the pandemic started. Clark County Commissioner Jim Gibson said Tuesday that “virtually every industry” in the Las Vegas Valley would participate in the job fair.

Gibson and fellow Commissioners Tick Segerblom and Marilyn Kirkpatrick hosted the Summer Job Fair in partnership with Workforce Connections’ One-Stop Career Centers, Nevada JobConnect, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and the Metropolitan Police Department.

More than 5K registered

About 5,100 job seekers were registered for the job fair, which also allowed walk-in candidates. Prospective employees walked from booth to booth, dropping off their resumes and learning more about companies.

Ancheta, for example, talked to several casinos and restaurants in search of a job with a “team environment.”

Segerblom on Friday called the event “one of the biggest job fairs in the history of Nevada.”

“If you’re looking at the Strip, the economy is coming back,” he said. “Unemployment is dying down. People need to go out and look for work.”

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, which has provided an extra $300 weekly to recipients, will expire Sept. 4 in Nevada.

Meanwhile, an estimated 8.9 percent of the Las Vegas area’s workforce was unemployed in May, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It was the second-highest rate among 51 metro areas with at least 1 million people.

Time to get back to work

Even so, casinos have been increasingly hiring as the economy comes back and restaurants have reported trouble finding workers to meet renewed demand.

Employment professionals offered free resume checks at the fair. Prospective employees were allowed to use laptops and printers.

Job seeker Quintin Freeman-Sewall, who printed his resume using a laptop outside the convention hall doors, said he moved to Las Vegas from Philadelphia three weeks ago. He was “looking for a change of scenery” and the city had always been one of his favorite places to visit.

But the 31-year-old has yet to find a position in Las Vegas.

“It’s been a fun few weeks, but it’s time for me to go back to work,” Freeman-Sewell said. “With the pandemic ending and all these openings, it seems like a good time to find (a job).”

‘War for talent’

With the job market thrown for a loop because of the pandemic, it’s an unusual time for employers and job seekers alike.

Jessica Porath, the human resources manager for Club Fortune Casino, said there’s a “war for talent” in Las Vegas’ entertainment industry.

With venues opening and the pandemic waning, businesses such as the Club Fortune must up the ante to bring in qualified workers.

“We’re competing with Resorts World; everyone is competing for the same talent here,” Porath said. “You have to get creative and offer incentives that maybe others don’t have to compete.”

Porath pointed to her company’s “generous” pay and benefits packages as the reason why it has been able to maintain its position in the job market. Club Fortune hired three employees just 45 minutes into Friday’s job fair.

“It’s already been a good day,” Porath said.

A line of people about two dozen deep filed in front of the MGM Resorts International booth. Wanda Gispert, MGM’s vice president of talent and workforce development, said her company is hiring in the accounting, finance, marketing, hotel operations, spa, restaurant and arena departments. MGM’s website, Gispert said, lists “thousands” of job postings.

MGM is seeing a huge shortage of lifeguards, in particular. Gispert said that last year, because of the pandemic, lifeguards couldn’t renew their licenses. Many have either left the lifeguard industry or haven’t renewed their licenses.

“Business is back and it’s back with a vengeance,” Gispert said. “So we have to ramp it up fast.”

Contact Dylan Svoboda at dsvoboda@reviewjournal.com. Follow @dylanksvoboda on Twitter.

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