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Job fair helps people with criminal backgrounds

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If you have a criminal record it can be hard to get a job. A criminal background wasn’t needed to attend a job fair held Tuesday at Hacc’s York Campus, but it was aimed at helping people who have one.

Greg Carr talked to many employers and handed out his resume. He is a forklift operator now but he is looking for better pay. He has a felony on his record and says it can be hard at times. “They actually told me before I went in they will not accept felons. Period. Some places I kept calling and calling, they don’t actually tell you that but you kind of know that’s what it is, especially if you’re actually qualified for the job,” said Carr.

“It helps to stay off the streets, you know what I mean? Stay productive. That’s my main priority right now stay productive and stay busy. As long as you stay busy, a better chance of you not getting in trouble,” said Carr. “I think this [job fair] is a lot easier because you can network better, and you know when you’re out there on your own trying to do things it’s a little difficult. That’s all this is about, having another chance to do right.”

The job fair had employers, job training resources, and even seminars, ranging from child care to resume building and interviewing skills.

“With our offenders who are coming out of the Department of Corrections they face many challenges. One of those things is unemployment,” said Chairman board of parole and probation for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Michael Potteiger. “What normally happens is an individual gets released and they go out looking for jobs on their own. But sometimes it’s very challenging when they’re on their own. Statistically it has shown the percent of individuals who recidivate, who don’t have employment, is higher than those who do have employment. So employment is obviously one piece of the puzzle, obviously it’s an important piece.”

The job fair featured many second-chance employers like ES3 LLC.

“We don’t discriminate against anyone,” said Tammy Ballard, who works in Human Resources for ES3. “If they’ve had some type of criminal background, it goes through our corporate office and they make their decisions there.  So we’re open to anyone applying. We have a lot of people with backgrounds that maybe not be favorable in the community and we have not had any issues. It’s always been positive no matter anyone who has come to work for us it’s always seemed to be a positive force whether they have a background or not.”

If you missed it, another one will be held May 22nd, from 10 a.m. –  2 p.m. at HACC’s Midtown Campus, located on Third Street in Harrisburg. For more information click here

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