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In the right field, jobs openings are plenty

Jobs aren't easy to come by these days — unless you're someone like Cassandra Gomez.

The company that hired her did so only two weeks after receiving her resume.

So what does Gomez do? She is a registered nurse, recently hired by Hernando-Pasco Hospice.

"Had I been in a different field," said Gomez, 63, of New Port Richey, "I'd still be looking for a job."

Indeed, the health care field continues to post "Help Wanted" signs for nurses and others, even during an economic downturn that has bumped Pasco County's unemployment rate up to 6.5 percent, 10th-highest in the state.

Of 117 Pasco job postings last month, more were connected to the health care industry than any other field, according to Career Central, the unemployment and job training office run by Pasco Hernando Jobs & Workforce Board.

Next, in order, were auto maintenance and custodial, administrative, manufacturing, professional (insurance and banking, for example) and construction.

"Health care has always been, knock on wood, somewhat immune to economic problems," said Community Hospital chief executive Kathryn Gillette. "Sadly enough, people still get sick."

Community Hospital, for instance, currently has 20 openings for registered nurses as well as openings for a speech pathologist, case managers, social workers and certified nursing assistants, Gillette said.

Hospices, home health care agencies, nursing homes and assisted living facilities also need workers to keep up with patient demand.

Hernando-Pasco Hospice now has 1,100 clients compared with 800 two years ago.

"The demand for our services is still going up," hospice spokeswoman Robin Kocher said.

• • •

So who else is hiring in Pasco County? A state-run employment Web site, employflorida.com, lists 21 construction-related jobs, some as old as five months.

They include a $12-an-hour electrician gig, a $14.98-an-hour traffic signal technical job and a $10-an-hour job as a pool service technician.

No surprise that most construction jobs available are tied not to residential projects but to commercial and industrial ones.

J.W. Harris Piping in Zephyrhills, for instance, is advertising an opening for a pipeline welder, a speciality trade, who would work mainly on projects for utility companies.

"It's hard to find work right now," said company president John Harris. "I'm definitely fortunate to have a lot going on at the moment."

Pasco residents who aren't necessarily tied to living here could consider Coastal Caisson, an Odessa-based company specializing in foundation construction. The firm is looking for a handful of qualified workers for a $29-million, two-year U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to fix the dike at Lake Okeechobee, said spokesman Bryan Kamm.

Manufacturing jobs on Career Central's list include positions for a welder, a machinist and an industrial engineering technician.

One manufacturer looking to hire is a subsidiary of South Pacific Trading Co., a health juice producer located at Dade City Business Park.

South Pacific realized a market niche created in part by the high cost of shipping: Bottling for out-of-state drink companies.

So the company is installing a high-speed bottling line at its Dade City plant and will grow its workforce from 14 to around 50, said Allie Ballantyne, assistant director for marketing. The company will be hiring line workers and technicians.

"We're definitely taking applications," she said.

• • •

Still, at the moment, few seem to have it as good as those looking for health care jobs.

Denie Sidney, a 34-year-old social worker, moved to Florida this year after getting married. She soon posted her resume on the Web site of the National Association of Social Workers.

A week later, she got a call from Hernando-Pasco Hospice. Was she interested in an open social worker position? The answer was yes. Sidney started in May.

"The demand for our profession is high," said Sidney, of Lutz. "I'm on board and loving it."

Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6247.

>>Fast facts

Need a job?

In June 2005, employers posted 190 job openings in Pasco County with Career Central. In June 2008, that figure was 117.

Currently, the agency has about 130 listings. Among the open positions:

• Optics assembly technician

• Seven nursing aides, orderlies and attendants

• Six registered nurses

• A/C installer

• Fast-food crew member

• Occupational therapist

• Boat builder

• Tour guide for Dade City sanctuary zoo

• Senior project engineer

Need help finding a job? Call Career Central at (727) 484-3400 or (813) 377-1300.

In the right field, jobs openings are plenty 07/12/08 [Last modified: Saturday, July 12, 2008 2:05pm]
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