Hartsfield-Jackson officials see lighter turnout for job fair

June 30, 2021 Atlanta - Timothy Hosea, regional manager with Hallmark Aviation Services, meets with job seekers at ATL Airport Career Fair at Georgia International Convention Center on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. The ATL Airport Career Fair will be held at the Georgia International Convention Center. This is the perfect opportunity for qualified applicants to apply for positions including managerial roles, jobs with airlines, cargo, maintenance, concessions, and other companies that make Hartsfield-Jackson an industry leader. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Caption
June 30, 2021 Atlanta - Timothy Hosea, regional manager with Hallmark Aviation Services, meets with job seekers at ATL Airport Career Fair at Georgia International Convention Center on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. The ATL Airport Career Fair will be held at the Georgia International Convention Center. This is the perfect opportunity for qualified applicants to apply for positions including managerial roles, jobs with airlines, cargo, maintenance, concessions, and other companies that make Hartsfield-Jackson an industry leader. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Businesses struggling to find enough workers to staff their airport locations cast around for potential hires at a Wednesday job fair hosted by Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

The event at the Georgia International Convention Center didn’t draw as large of a crowd past airport career fairs, when job seekers often packed aisles and formed long lines.

Though thousands registered, not all of them showed up. “This is definitely the first time we’ve had slow turnout,” said LaTosha Brown, human resources director for concessionaire Airport Retail Management/Crews.

It’s “a reflection of what we’re dealing with with the workforce,” she said.

Staffing shortages have hampered the ability of airport businesses to ramp up operations. The businesses cut workers when the COVID-19 pandemic drastically reduced travel. A record 70 employers showed up for the ATL Airport Career Fair.

The Atlanta airport plans to hold a job fair once a month through the summer, with the next one expected in late July. Officials will reassess the situation in the fall to see if the job fairs need to continue, said Hartsfield-Jackson public affairs director Myrna White.

“This is a national issue with employers, having vacancies and not being able to fill them,” White said.

About 2,050 job candidates pre-registered for the airport job fair Wednesday. To encourage social distancing, fair organizers had made a schedule that would allow about 200 people per hour to enter. But with no-shows, there was plenty of space available for much of the time and airport officials also welcomed walk-in candidates.

“We’ve had a few hits of great candidates, but we need a lot more,” Global Concessions recruiting manager Jonathan Harps said early Wednesday afternoon. That’s because passenger traffic at the airport has “picked up faster than we expected,” he said.

Most of Global Concessions’ restaurants are operating at Hartsfield-Jackson, but a few haven’t yet reopened — including the IHOP in the domestic terminal — because of staffing issues.

Hartsfield-Jackson is asking all concessionaires to reopen by August 1 and to return to full operating hours.

In addition to problems finding workers, concessionaires also have faced challenges with vendors that can’t get enough drivers and warehouse workers, Brown said.

“There’s still a lot of fear out there about the pandemic, especially with the new Delta variant,” she said. But “we don’t cower in the face of challenges.”

“We’re getting back to grassroots recruiting,” handing out flyers and going to more events in search of workers, Brown said. “You’ve got to hit the ground.”

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