QUINCY — Angela Caldwell was “disappointed” at 2 p.m.
Only 12 people had filled out application forms during a food service job fair that started at 8 a.m. Wednesday at the Quincy Town Center. Hundreds of positions need to be filled at 28 food service businesses throughout the city, including hosts and hostesses, servers, cooks, bartenders, dishwashers, and kitchen managers.
“I hoped we would have people busting out the door,” said Caldwell, director of workforce development for the Great River Economic Development Foundation, which organized the job fair. “I’m not going to call it a success. I’m not going to call it a failure. Twelve is better than nothing.”
Twelve more applicants showed up before the fair ended at 4 p.m., leading Caldwell to say, “I’ll take it.”
However, many of the positions available at local restaurants will remain unfilled, and that frustrates Caldwell. She predicts more restaurants choosing to open later, close earlier and shut their doors more often.
“The thing is: How long can you do that and stay in business?” she said. “That frightens me.
“When the extra (stimulus) money from the federal government (for unemployed people in Illinois) runs out, and people figure out they have to have jobs, and then they can’t find child care because there’s a shortage of child care … when all of that happens, then what? If you have an opportunity today to get a job, and there are organizations that will help you figure out the risks, it just seems to me that one would get a job now rather than waiting and be reactive instead of proactive.”
Caldwell also believes the unemployment issue runs deeper than people merely staying home to collect federal stimulus money.
“Growing up, how many people who are working age now saw their dad get up at 4 o’clock in the morning and head to work?” she said. “How many of them saw their mother get up, fix breakfast, get dressed and get to work? Those were the examples I had when I was growing up in Chicago, but not everybody has had that.
“Where are the mentors? Where are those folks who take an interest in our young people and say, ‘Come on. Let me show you something.’ You don’t have to take on five or 10 kids. Just one. Show them something. Get a kid interested or find out what they are interested in. Look what’s happening with the generation that we’re expecting to come behind us and take over.
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