April 17, 2017 12:02 AM

In the midst of an ongoing economic downturn, this year’s LEDA Job Fair will be critical in connecting employers with their most valuable resource — employees.

The LEDA staff meets with hundreds of businesses each year, and one of the top concerns we hear repeatedly is workforce — whether it’s finding the number of workers needed, identifying workers with the necessary skill sets or keeping positions filled once someone is hired. As such, workforce development is an essential component of LEDA’s economic development efforts, and part of this strategy is connecting the workforce demand (employers’ need for workers) and the workforce supply (individuals seeking employment). Our most prominent event, the LEDA Job Fair, is essential in carrying out this objective — for local businesses and residents.

Now in its 22nd year, the job fair is the largest recruitment event in Acadiana. The 2017 LEDA Job Fair will be held May 9 at the Cajundome Convention Center.

The event is even more important this year given the job losses in the region due to the energy downturn. Since June 2014, more than 23,000 jobs have been lost in the Lafayette MSA (Lafayette, Acadia, Iberia, St. Martin and Vermilion parishes). The LEDA Job Fair is part of ongoing efforts in the region to connect displaced workers with companies that are hiring.

Our staff works diligently to secure a cross-section of employers that is reflective of the region’s business base — employers who are offering jobs ranging from entry-level to executive, from those needing little training to those requiring advanced degrees. The job fair is a great venue for job seekers to meet with hiring managers from multiple employers all in one location. In the past 21 years, thousands of Acadiana job seekers have connected directly with Acadiana’s top employers with remarkable success.

How can you make the most of your job search before, during and after the LEDA Job Fair? Each year, we bring in local career consultants to provide job seekers with valuable information to make their job search more productive.

At 10 a.m., Facet will present “Preparing for Different Types of Interviews.” Then, at 11 a.m., Laurie J. James will present her popular résumé writing seminar, “How to Write a Competitive Resume That Yields Results.” Danielle Dayries concludes the seminar series at 1 p.m. with “How to Increase the Odds of a Post Job Fair Interview.”

LEDA’s workforce development efforts also include the LEDA Virtual Job Fair. Since its creation in 2005, the Virtual Job Fair (www.lafayette.org/jobs) has become the most popular page on LEDA’s website. Our workforce staff posts job vacancies for LEDA’s clients who may be new to the area, companies in the process of expanding or other local businesses seeking qualified employees. We distribute the job postings to a network of workforce centers in addition to sharing the information with the Louisiana Workforce Commission, UL Lafayette’s and South Louisiana Community College’s career services websites, and other local, private colleges and training academies. LEDA posted more than 780 job openings on the Virtual Job Fair in 2016; so far this year, we’ve posted 200 job openings.

As Lafayette’s business base evolves, new employment opportunities will present themselves to the local workforce. Our workforce development efforts benefit the entire community as a quality workforce influences economic development by growing our existing businesses as well as attracting new businesses and industries to the region.

The LEDA Job Fair is free to job seekers. Online registration is available at ledajobfair2017.eventbrite.com. On the day of the event, job seekers should dress professionally and bring copies of their résumés. The latest job fair developments and participating employers can be found at www.lafayette.org/jobfair.

LEDA Job Fair

TUESDAY, MAY 9
9 A.M. TO 2 P.M.
CAJUNDOME CONVENTION CENTER

Pre-registration: ledajobfair2017.eventbrite.com

Gregg Gothreaux is president and CEO of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority.

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