Six hundred seniors are ready to enter the workforce

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -- The number of jobs lost grows every month.  In mid May when college and high school students graduate, the number of people looking for work is likely to grow.

Over 600 high school students converged on the Convocation Center Thursday morning to find out what opportunities are out there for their futures.

"I think a lot of kids are nervous and scared about going into a job," said high school senior Rustin Onstead.

Everyone here has some of the skills that future employers are looking for.

"Many of them have received certification in many areas.  They're ready to go to work, they're ready to go to college," said Arkansas Department of Workforce Director Bill Walker.

Walker believes these seniors can be successful.

"One of the advantages that these kids are going to have is that they're going to be very well trained in many of the areas that business and industry are looking to get," said Walker.

"They can get a job in the workplace even though the economy is bad right now.  They can still go out there and market themselves as fresh individuals," said high school Senior Xavier Billingsley.

That type of marketing will be necessary with more competition for the same jobs.

"I see more people now coming out than vendors and at some recruitment events.  There were more vendors coming out than people and now it's just the opposite and they're getting older and older," said Arkansas State Police Recruiter Sgt. Alex Finger.

"It's always going to be competitive and I think it should be because businesses, just like all of us, we want the best and the brightest.  These kids absolutely represent that in every way," said Walker.

"Students know that and they can take that as a challenge because they know with the skills they've learned in high school, they can compete with those people who have been in the workforce for so long," said Billingsley.

There were several vendors on hand for students including some companies, but others were offering a different option for students who don't want to immediately start working, a chance at higher education.

The following is a list of the companies, colleges, and other organizations that were at the event:

Arkansas Army National Guard

Arkansas Department of Corrections

Arkansas Northeast College

Arkansas State University

Black River Technical College

Craighead Electric Cooperative

DENSO Manufacturing

East Arkansas Broadcasters

East Arkansas Community College

Engines, Inc.

Helena Chemical
Hino Motors

Jonesboro Police Department


Mid-South Community College

Nashville Auto-Diesel College

Ritter Communications and Ritter AgriBusiness

Tulsa Welding School

UAMC AHEC, Northeast

United States Marines Recruiting Center

United States Army Reserve Center