By Chelsea Miller
Sean Hays served a year in the Army before he was honorably discharged because of an injury. The 23-year-old said he believed his background in the military would help him find a job and set him apart from other applicants.
Two years later, Hays is still searching for a job.
He isn’t alone.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterans had an unemployment rate of 9.4 percent in January compared with 8.1 percent for nonveterans. Gulf War II- era veterans remained the largest group without a job at 17.3 percent.
Hays said his injury may be a factor in his unsuccessful job search.
“The majority of the veterans are either out because of age, retired or because of an injury,” he said. “Having an injury would keep you from getting certain jobs.”
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Emiliano Deleon said veterans also can have trouble finding careers that interest them.
“I think they have problems finding jobs that match their specific job skills that they learned in the military,” he said. “In that sense, it’s a little tough.”
Deleon, along with the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, ShaleDirectories.com and the Tip of the Arrow Foundation, hosted the Mahoning Valley’s first oil- and gas-related job fair for veterans Thursday at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station here.
ShaleDirectories.com is a directory of oil and gas jobs. Tip of the Arrow Foundation helps veterans transition to civilian work life.
Deleon said businesses at the fair looked for skill sets that matched those that veterans learn in the field.
Companies that participated included VM Star, KS Drilling/Keane Frac, Chesapeake Energy Corp., Dynamic Structures Inc. and North American Field Services.
The companies sought more than 100 veterans to fill open and future positions.
The hiring event also featured educational- advancement opportunities for veterans at Youngstown State University, Eastern Gateway Community College and Weekend College at Hiram College.
Joe Barone, president of ShaleDirectories.com, was approached by Tip of the Arrow Foundation to attract veterans to a career in the oil-and-gas industry. Barone helped with a similar job fair in Williamsport, Pa., and he said the results were positive.
“We had about 80 vets. About 50 percent of them had jobs within 60 days,” he said, adding that he is planning future events throughout Pennsylvania.
Hays attended the job fair with his fianc e, looking for a career in the oil industry. Although he acknowledged his job search has been difficult, he is optimistic and found several opportunities at the job fair.
Deleon said more than 200 veterans visited the job fair. He said many would find their career of interest while at the event.
“Even if they just take a small portion of their skill sets, they can apply them to some of the industries that are here,” he said.