By Kendra Evensen
FORT HALL — The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes gave southeast Idaho community members a chance to better prepare for employment opportunities and learn about some of the local positions available during a two-day job fair this week. And quite a few people took advantage of the event.
“We had a good turnout,” said Ramona Medicine Horse, vocational rehabilitation manager for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.
She said people seemed particularly interested in the job preparation workshops they offered on Tuesday. The classes included information on customer service, online applications and assessments, financial planning and the Affordable Care Act among other topics.
The job fair was open to tribal members as well as the general public, Medicine Horse said; however, the event was specifically geared towards those who are facing obstacles like being a single parent, coming from a difficult background or struggling with a disability. The event was meant to help those individuals learn what they could do to better prepare for the workforce and find a job, she said, adding that unemployment on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation is high.
On Wednesday, area businesses and schools were able to share information about local opportunities.
Heather Wright, a recruitment coordinator for Portneuf Medical Center in Pocatello, said roughly 35 people stopped to talk with her in the first few hours of the event on Wednesday. Some of those were Shoshone-Bannock Jr./Sr. High School students interested in pursuing jobs as certified nurse assistants or registered nurses.
“Hopefully we’ll see (some of them) in a couple of years,” Wright said.
She also talked to local people about jobs at the hospital that don’t require a lot of education or a license, including clerical and housekeeping positions.
“You don’t have to be a doctor or a nurse to apply (for a job at the hospital),” Wright said.
Sindi Crosland, vocational coordinator at Blackfoot-based Dawn Enterprises, Inc., shared information about the nonprofit organization’s vocational and developmental disability services among other programs on Wednesday. She said the organization offers opportunities for both those with and without disabilities, and she showed off some of the fire retardant balaclavas the nonprofit makes for military and private organizations.
Angela Broncho, a recruitment specialist, and Tracy Martin, senior personnel specialist, both of whom work for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, talked about the jobs available on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. They said there are full-time and temporary opportunities, as well as summer jobs for youth.
They encouraged people who’ve been turned down for jobs in the past to keep trying, and to consider alternative routes to employment, like taking a temporary position that can provide job training and a better chance of getting a full-time position later on.
Chris Guthrie, a community development specialist for Partners For Prosperity, also attended the job fair on Wednesday. She represented Idaho State University’s Successful Transitions And Retention Track (START) program, which helps people who are facing academic or personal challenges, which make it difficult for them to go to college.
Guthrie said the program provides academic and social support to the students, and even offers some scholarship opportunities.
“College is scary for a lot of people,” she said, adding that START helps them work through the challenges they are facing.
Some of those who attended the job fair turned in applications for the program, Guthrie said.
Those who attended the event were able to learn some important information that can help them find a job, Medicine Horse said.
“We had a lot of good comments (from participants),” she said.