Seeking a fresh start: Displaced Cargill workers take advantage of resource fair

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Sometimes getting the right job has to do with being at the right place at the right time. About 30 employers made it that much easier Tuesday morning by all assembling at the MATC Walker's Point Education Center.

Their main goal was to match up the hundreds of Cargill employees laid off from the Milwaukee plant a few weeks ago with new jobs.

“When I first learned that Cargill would be displacing all these workers, I immediately contacted our Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board and we’ve worked together with our hire center to get this up and running. We’ve had several meetings already with the workers so that they can know what benefits are available to them. And more importantly they can know what paths they can take to making sure they have employment,” said Mayor Tom Barrett, who was at the Resource Fair on Tuesday.

The Resource Fair is a spot people can come for job opportunities, as well as resources like staffing agencies and worker training programs that could lead them to employment.

Dawn Pratt was representing one of the more than 30 employers there, a highway construction company called Payne & Dolan Incorporated, was hoping to remind the workers not to limit their options when it comes to searching for a job.

“I think people get stuck into thinking they have to have the same kind of career. And it’s surprising to see a construction company at an event like this, but I want people to know that they gain skills and those skills are transferable,” said Pratt. “I mean if they did mechanic work or they did assembly line work or quality control, any of those skills can transfer over into other industries so it’s important to let people know that when they lose a job they shouldn’t have a narrow focus, they should make sure they are looking at all opportunities.”

Former Cargill employees said they were grateful for all those opportunities given to them as they try to move forward.

“It shows that people care about those who lost their jobs and their willing to get an opportunity to get a job,” said Miguel Guzman, a former Cargill employee of 13 years. “I think this is good because a lot of people don’t have access to these places and they don’t know where they are and by having a job fair they can speak to more than one person at a time to try to find work.”

The mayor says the workers will continue to be paid until the end of September, and he says it's his goal to have as many of the workers in new jobs by then.