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Despite thousands of openings, job seekers say competition makes it hard to find employment

Updated: May. 4, 2021 at 5:55 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - As more people get vaccinated, businesses are returning to normal. But it hasn’t been as easy as they’d like. Industries, like retail and service, were hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of that thousands of North Carolinians were laid off. But now, businesses say hiring back those employees is the next challenge.

That’s why many of them are holding job fairs in the coming weeks. Despite thousands of open jobs, unemployed people are finding tough to find a job. They say there’s still more people looking for a job in Charlotte, than there are jobs available.

Great Wolf Lodge held a hiring event on Tuesday to fill nearly 100 open positions. Culture is key at the indoor water park and the training in team morale starts immediately. The Concord location say hiring at least 70 people is a necessity to prepare for summer, just weeks away.

“We’re seeing family travel starting to increase more and more. And as vaccines become more widely available, were seeing more families looking to come to Great Wolf Lodge,” said Angie Brown, the general manager.

The hiring event allowed people to interview and get hired on the spot. Dozens got hired on Tuesday but many of them said the search hasn’t been easy.

“It was kind of difficult. Still have bills that need to be paid. Life still goes on even if you don’t have a job,” said Jaden Janvier.

Janvier was laid off at the beginning of the pandemic. He’s been looking for a job that has growth opportunities ever since but says his lack of experience put him behind other candidates. Although places are in desperate need of employees as the economy opens back up, many job seekers say the competition for jobs is more intense.

“There are a lot of people who were affected, a lot of people looking for jobs and not that many jobs to give. They’re giving people jobs with more experience,” he said.

It’s not just competition in the market either. For many, like Raven Wolfe, the fear of the virus is still a challenge.

“My family just got vaccinated so I’m able to look for jobs. My grandma’s really sick so we’re all very nervous.”

Wolfe is a college student who was forced to take a gap year when the pandemic hit. She says although she’s worked before in the service industry, jobs were hard to come by. Often she’d get to the first round and then never be called again.

“It’s been really complicated. I’ve applied to several places and haven’t heard back from,” she said.

But others, with more experience and training, say it’s been easier for them. Tony Harris has decades of experience in the hospitality industry. So when he decided to come out of retirement, he says he was happy surprised with job availability.

“Once I got on the internet, and got on Indeed and start putting out applications,” Harris said.

Mooresville-based Lowe’s had a hiring event on Tuesday as well. They’re looking to fill thousands of jobs just in the Charlotte stores. JW Marriot is also holding job events to hire 300 service industry staff for their new uptown hotel in the next week.

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