LOOKING FOR LABOR Area companies seek manufacturing employees at CareerSource job fair
MANATEE — Although he’s already employed part-time with the Baltimore Orioles, high school student Conlan Murphy attended a manufacturing job fair Wednesday morning to find part-time work better aligned to his aspirations.
Murphy, a junior at Bayshore High School, is dual-enrolled at Manatee Technical College. He’s about halfway through the HVAC program there and said he hopes to start his own air conditioning business someday, mainly to service boats.
“I knew I wanted to do something in trades, and something with my hands,” Murphy said. “And I love boats.”
He took the job fair as an opportunity to do a little research and talk to representatives from the 26 companies present to find out what kind of boats his future business could service.
Murphy was one of about 100 job seekers and students milling around Manatee Techinical College as a part of CareerSource Suncoast’s manufacturing job fair. The job fair was a part of a statewide initiative conducted by CareerSource in conjunction with state colleges and manufacturers to place skilled workers in open trade jobs.
Anthony Gagliano, business services director for CareerSource Suncoast, said employers at the job fair were mostly seeking people for permanent placement, and the word “manufacturing” often creates a false impression for job seekers.
“Even though they are manufacturing, they are looking for sales, advertising representatives and financial representatives,” Gagliano said. “Sometimes it’s what would almost constitute a whole department for a company.”
Air Products and Chemicals Inc. was one of the 26 companies seeking permanent positions for its liquefied natural gas manufacturing facility in Palmetto. Shaun Polasky, human resources manager for the facility, said the firm is looking to fill between 20 and 30 positions, an almost even mix of manufacturing technicians, fabricator fitters, welders, maintenance technicians, welding supervisors and quality-control technicians.
Jennifer Seavey, training coordinator for Air Products, said the company has a good working relationship with Manatee Techincal College. MTC has a program specific to welding and Seavey said the college is working on another one that will provide students with basic information about the manufacturing business.
The manufacturing industry employed more than 300,000 Floridians in 2014 according to the National Association of Manufacturers, and the demand for these jobs continues to grow.
Martha Meyers coordinates business and industry services for MTC and said about 1,500 of the college’s 2,000 students are involved in manufacturing programs.
“I would say manufacturing and construction are alive and well in Manatee County,” Meyers said.
Janelle O’Dea, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow her on Twitter@jayohday.