Cambria County Job Fair

Loudoun County (Va.) sheriff’s Deputy Tom Elliston (left) helps job seeker Dan Fabo of Summerhill during the job fair Tuesday, May 5, 2015, at Pasquerilla Conference Center in downtown Johnstown.

Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia is beefing up its recruiting – looking to other states for willing workers to fill a shortage of around 50 deputies.

They found plenty of interest in Johnstown, Deputy Tom Elliston said.

“We were in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, yesterday,” Elliston said. “A half-hour into this, we’re having better luck here already.”

The sheriff’s office offers nine months of paid training to people who want to police the 512-square-mile Virginia municipality – the richest and fastest-growing county in the country, Elliston said – and deputies were among employers looking for workers at the Cambria County Job Fair on Tuesday.

Altogether, 65 employers and colleges or technical schools set up booths to share information with job seekers at the event at Pasquerilla Conference Center in downtown Johnstown. The office’s current 90-day recruitment push is a rare opportunity for the ideal candidate, Elliston said.

“What we have to offer is head and shoulders above what else you might find,” he said.

The sheriff’s office is recruiting people who are 21 or older, U.S. citizens and have a high school diploma or GED – and a clean criminal background and driving record. A police academy diploma is not needed, Elliston said. The office pays for that and provides $2,000 in relocation fees.

Dan Fabo, who has been working second shift at a local company since January, listened to the deputy’s pitch with interest. Fabo, 30, worked in construction for 10 years, then spent three years mining with Rox Coal before he was laid off.

“I’m looking for something better than the shift I’m working,” he said.

He’d like to see more of his wife and three kids, ages 5 to 11.

“Right now, I put them on the bus on Monday and don’t see them again until Saturday or Sunday,” Fabo said.

“I’m looking for the right opportunity.”

The job fair offered a picture of the mix of fields with job openings in the county, according to Jeff Dick, site administrator for Cambria and Somerset County CareerLink offices.

CareerLink and Johnstown Area Regional Industries worked together to host the fair.

“It’s really across the board,” he said, pointing out that health care seems to have constant demand in recent years, as well as manufacturers on the hunt for skilled labor and retailers looking for workers.

Giant Eagle representatives were on hand, looking to hire about 20. A handful of those in skilled positions, such as baking or meat cutting, were full-time posts, field recruiter Sandy Kopco said. As a recruiter since 2008, she said she sees gradual improvement in the number of available positions in Ebensburg and Somerset stores.

“I think it is getting better,” she said.

And retail posts, such as those at the grocery chain, are often worthwhile, Kopco said.

“You can move from store to store,” she said. “There are opportunities for advancement.”

GapVax, which manufactures industrial vacuum loaders in Johnstown, is anticipating hires later this year, Human Resources Vice President Ken Salem said. The company’s table was one of the more popular stops for job seekers at the fair.

The company employs 115 now and has hired 12 since the beginning of this year. Salem said a facility expansion, the first phase of which should be complete this fall, will nearly triple GapVax’s workspace in Moxham.

“We are working to renovate the facility to increase production,” he said. “We are the world’s best commercial vacuuming system, used by municipalities and contractors.”

After the expansion, Salem said, the company will be looking for more skilled workers – industrial painters, welders, assemblers with hydraulics experience and those with a background in electrical and mechanical systems.

“Over the next three years, we expect our workforce to grow significantly,” he said.

For job seekers

CareerLink: 533-2493

Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office: 703-771-5276 or email recruiter@loudoun.gov

Kecia Bal is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at @KeciaBKay

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