Few Blacks Show for Job Fair Opportunities

Christian Morrow, New Pittsburgh Courier, May 14, 2009

For some yet to be determined reason, African-Americans are missing in action when it comes to unique job opportunities being created in Pittsburgh.

Despite a heavy turnout at two recent job fairs conducted by the Rivers Casino, which organizers said yielded a great pool of potential employees, the number of Black applicants might have approached about 10 percent at best.

“We had an exceptional turnout for both events, but yes, there were not a lot of African-Americans and that’s a concern for us,” said George Matta, business development and community relations manager. “We specifically reached out–through the Northside Leadership Conference, CareerLink and the Urban League–to assemble a diverse applicant pool. So yes, we are aware of it, and we’ve recontacted those agencies to make sure make sure we have a diverse pool.”

Mark Fatla, executive director of the Northside Leadership Conference, said the turnout news is disappointing given the coverage of the job fairs, especially in the New Pittsburgh Courier. He said it is possible that some folks are putting themselves out of the process because they believe they won’t get hired.

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Through outreach workshops in conjunction with the Urban League, CareerLink and Community College of Allegheny County, Fatla’s organization assembled a pool of 827 low-income and minority applicants for casino positions. Of those, he said, 324 were scheduled for interviews, 237 actually showed up, and of those 150 were scheduled for a second interview.

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The low turnout phenomenon seemed to be present May 9 at the Hill House Association where a scheduled Trade Union Job Fair had only 45 people fill out forms noting their interest in getting into union apprenticeship programs.

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