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Nicolet College job fair draws record number of employers seeking workers

Katie Thoresen
Fifty employers set up booths in the Lakeside Center, the college had to turn a few vendors away.

Wisconsin is experiencing record low unemployment rates.

It comes at a time when there’s a high demand for workers.

Sara Tienhaara calls it a job seekers market.

“They have a lot of options,” said Tienhaara. She’s a success coach at Nicolet College and was the career center coordinator and still helps in that capacity.

Students were able to get a taste of those options at Nicolet College’s Job Fair Thursday.

Fifty employers set up booths in the Lakeside Center, the college had to turn a few vendors away.

“Honestly, it’s the state of things. I think people turn to Nicolet pretty quickly as answer to employment shortages. Typically, we’ll have about 20-22 employers, in the fall we had 36 which we thought was a lot of people, and then for this one we have 50. I think that really says something for the employer needs in the area,” said Tienhaara.

BW Papersystems was one of the vendors at the job fair.

The Phillips-based company has offices across the U.S. and world.

Jodi Knaack is an internal recruiter with BW Papersystems. She says they have more than 40 openings ranging from welding and engineering to office administration and customer service.

Knaack says the openings aren’t due to high-employee turnover, but high-customer demand and the need to expand.

“We definitely have that need. That’s why working with students who have that recent skill set, that will definitely help us to be able to get in and get going,” said Knaack.

Despite the high-demand for workers, Nicolet Colleges says the number of graduates with jobs post-graduation is slightly down from previous years.

In 2017-2018, 96% of graduates were employed within six months. In 2020-2021, it was 91% percent of graduates.

Tienhaara believes it’s because students can afford to be picky.

“I think the pandemic has given them the opportunity to think about what they want to do. It also taught them that remote jobs are a real possibility,” she said. “Maybe they’re getting a little pickier thinking of ‘I really like this flexibility of the pandemic of working from home, being their for my kids when I need they needed it.’ I think some of it might be attributed to that.”

Nicolet College has also seen an increase in people seeking higher education during the pandemic.

As WXPR reported at the beginning of the school year, enrollment at Nicolet College is up 2 percent since 2019.

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