Several hundred Caymanians attended a job fair at the Marriott Beach Resort on Saturday hoping to land one of at least 80 roles participating employers had committed to filling at the event.

The volunteer organisers advised companies the focus of the Employing Cayman fair was solely to match job-seeking candidates with employers that have open positions.

Instead of promotions and merchandise, there were only going to be interviews with candidates, and employers had to be willing “to hire on the spot.”

Likewise, jobseekers had to come prepared.

Tanya Newlove of aviation company Daggaro, and one of the organisers, explained that the idea for the job fair was sparked when a few companies found they had vacancies for similar positions, including administration and business support, trade, construction and landscaping, and customer service.

After contacting other employers, “we ended up with 80 jobs”, she said.

By midday Saturday more than 400 people had already lined up for interviews at one of the 16 employer booths. The majority of open positions were in trade and construction.

Paul Pearson, managing director of Davenport, which had more than 20 positions to fill across its group of companies, said there is a shortage of qualified people in construction.

“We have positions that we could train: tilers, plumbers, electricians, painters. So that’s the main reason for getting involved today,” he said.

“We obviously want to hire Caymanians. Nobody wants to go through the process involving WORC and pay for permits and everything.”

Pearson was pleased with both the turnout and the quality of candidates, and said he is confident of filling most positions that are currently vacant.

“Everybody was very professional, turned out very well and brought resumes for the most part,” he said. “If the enthusiasm that we saw today comes through in their work, that would be great.”

Daggaro is hiring for eleven jobs in marketing, concierge services, administration and IT, as well as the helicopter side of the business. “Everybody thinks you have to be a pilot to be aviation, but there are a million other things,” said Newlove.

“The reason we became involved is because the jobs that we have we can train [people for].”

The company is looking for people with personality, not just a specific skill set, she added.

Some of the longest queues on the day formed in front of A.L. Thompson’s booth.

“We were blown away by the response,” said general manager Daniel Murphy. “It was fantastic. There was a really strong showing.”

He said the real benefit for his business is that getting that much time to spend with job candidates would normally take weeks, if not months.

The company is looking to fill half a dozen positions such as drivers, customer service staff or service repair technicians.

Murphy said he met with a very good mix of strong candidates in terms of skill-sets and previous employment. “This was great, because we were able to see people that may not have otherwise applied to A.L. Thompson’s, but they happened to be there and decided to stop by.”

None of the participating employers had to pay to be at the event, which was funded by company and private sponsors.

The job fair also featured a ‘Dress for Success’ section that offered donated clothes and a changing area for anyone who did not feel appropriately dressed for an interview or may not have the professional clothing associated with certain roles.

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