Burlington County hosts health-care career fair

Employers in attendance provide community resources

Burlington County and its workforce development board held a health-care career fair on June 22, with more than a dozen employers in attendance, including BAYADA Home Health Care and Jefferson Health.

“Our March career fair was more construction, utilities and labor, (but) now we’re in health care because that’s a big drive,” said Barbara Weir, a senior program analyst and member of the board.

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“I’m not specifically looking for LPN (licensed practical nurse) or RN (registered nurse), (but) direct support professionals, something that an entry-level person can get a job for.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and a notice from the county, employment in health-care occupations is projected to grow 16 percent from 2020 to 2030, amounting to more than 2.6 million jobs. The projected increase is greater than any other industry, and according to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, in the state alone, nearly 65,000 new health- care jobs are expected to be added, an annual increase of 1.2 percent.

Jennifer Hutton, a palliative care outreach specialist for Samaritan Healthcare and Hospice, explained what brought her to the event and why she feels the career fair is a benefit.

“We’re looking, currently, for people in social worker positions, RNs, LPNs, home health aides, grieving counselors, music therapists and administrative positions,” she said. “ … For everyone right now, being in person is awesome, it’s amazing, just getting that face-to-face interaction and hearing what people are looking for.

“A lot of people that have come by, I feel (that) they’re making a lot of different changes because of the pandemic, and it’s great to see (that) people are really looking to change career paths,’ Hutton added. “Or they’ve had to.  We’ve had to kind of adapt.”

The health-care hiring fair is the second industry-specific career event hosted by the commissioners and workforce development board this year. The estimated unemployment rate for the county is currently at 2.8 percent, the third lowest among New Jersey counties and the lowest mark since May 2019, also an estimated at 2.8 percent.

Becky Mhley, human resources generalist for Medford Leas, and Cathy Mason, director of nursing for the same facility, explained that they attended the fair to raise awareness for open positions such as RNs, LPNs, home-health aides and CNAs (certified nursing assistant) for Medford Leas.

“It’s nice because there’s some of our competitors (here), but we’re all here for the same reason,” Mason explained. “We have to provide services to the elderly, so we want to make sure that we … have that full staff so that we can also give our full- and part-time staff some breaks, time off, things like that.

“So it’s hugely important that we try different venues for recruitment at this point.”

Weir emphasized why a career fair tailored to the health-care industry is important.

“ … There’s a lot of people who just want to give back, so health care is usually where it’s probably the most rewarding,” she said, “ … because you’re really helping people that are in a pinch.”

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