Construction jobs resurgent at Honolulu job fair

Charles Moore
Charles Moore
Beth Busch
Beth Busch

By Tannya Joaquin - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -  You can read a lot into our economy by who turns up at job fairs and who doesn't. There were far fewer hospitality related employers at Tuesday's Job Quest Fair, but construction companies made a comeback in a big way.

Hawaii's construction boom from a few years ago dried up when the real estate market tanked, but, signs of a turnaround could be found inside the latest job fair at the Blaisdell.

"There are a lot of opportunities coming down the pipe" said Charles Moore of Swinerton Builders.

Swinerton Builders is hiring hundreds for a massive two to three year construction project at the federal building and courthouse.

"Something like $65 million so that's going to have a big economic impact on Honolulu and for workers over here to gain opportunities."

"We think this is a sign that construction jobs are coming back. We haven't had construction jobs at a job fair in over two years. Now, we have 45 people in the Pikake hiring for construction positions." said Beth Busch, president of the Job Quest Fair.

160 employers turned out, 45 of them related to construction. Organizers estimate about 5,000 job seekers made the rounds.

"It's hard to tell what the construction jobs will draw but we think it will be a big draw" said Busch.

Watts Constructors also put a feeler out for employees across the board.

"Project manager, quality control, safety managers, also craft workers" said Jacqueline Lucas-Lara, senior human resources manager for Watts Constructors.

"We just won the $168 million Guam Navy hospital project, the hugest awarded by the Navy in the Guam region."

Federal construction jobs are a bright spot at a time when many private developments are on hold… with the exception of newcomers like Disney's Aulani Resort.

Still after talking to many companies, some participants found the perfect job may not exist right now.

"Customer service for NEX exchange on Pearl Harbor. That's seasonal" said Melodi Hardaway.

"I'm optimistic that someone of my experience, I will find a job. It may not be my dream job but a job is a job" said Nathan Miyake.

Our unemployment rate doesn't tell us the number of workers who are just biding their time until a better job comes along. One other high profile recruiter at the fair was rail. Thousands of jobs expected when that project gets off the ground.

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