MERIDEN — The Workforce Alliance and the American Job Centers are stepping up job fairs for seasonal workers in retail and fulfillment.
In addition to employers such as Westfield Meriden, Macy’s and Goodwill, the Workforce Alliance works closely with Amazon to fill jobs at its Wallingford sortation center in time for holiday cyber shopping.
Amazon job fairs are planned for Oct. 18 at the American Job Center in New Haven, on Nov. 6 at the Job Center in Meriden, and on Nov. 13 in New Haven. All fairs run from 10 a.m. to noon.
Jadiel Perez Vasquez of New Haven was one of about 30 people who came to the American Job Center on West Main Street last week seeking an opportunity with Amazon in Wallingford.
“I want more than just working at (fast food),” said Perez Vasquez, 18. “This is a platform for opportunity. I thought this would be better.”
Perez Vasquez said the Amazon application differed from other online employment forms because it asked him about his specific career and personal goals.
“This is asking about what I want to do,” he said.
About 20 applicants made appointments to file a 25-page digital application, and 10 spots were reserved for walk-ins, said Vickie Gelpke, a business services specialist with the Workforce Alliance. Amazon is seeking to hire about 95 people this week.
If the candidate is successful on the application, they move to a short interview, an introductory video, more forms, a drug screen, a background check and if all goes well an orientation date at the Research Parkway facility.
Three Amazon employees were at the job center to assist the job seekers with the application. None were authorized to comment to the media.
Thursday’s job fair was one of many the Workforce Alliance has hosted for Amazon jobs. The organization is also ready to help screen and refer the hundreds of employees required when Amazon opens its warehouse and distribution center in North Haven in spring 2019.
“The (job fairs) are intensive,” said Workforce Alliance spokeswoman Ann Harrison. “We are providing that service to the employer as a way to serve job seekers. We engage new people at the job centers.”
The Workforce Alliance, contracted by the state to provide job recruitment and training services, works with many regional and local employers. But Amazon has an acute need to fill a lot of positions, Harrison said.
Workforce Alliance doesn’t add additional staffing, but relies on resources from American Jobs Center and other partners; the state Department of Labor, the Women and Families Centers, the Meriden Housing Authority and others for help getting the word out, either through direct referral or printing flyers.
“We try to do that with as little cash as possible,” Harrison said. “We use social media, social service agencies, other places that work with people who need work. They’ll come in with their people and see the process.”
Amazon brings its own drug screening equipment and conducts the testing on site. It also pays the costs of the background checks.
Tim Combies of Meriden patiently worked through the online application for an opportunity to work at Amazon. Combies is currently employed in another warehouse on Research Parkway earning $10.10 per hour. Amazon’s announcement to bring its minimum wage to $15 per hour brought him to the job center Thursday.
“Five dollars more an hour is $5 more an hour,” Combies said. “This will work for me.”