The jobs are out there; it’s just a matter of being proactive.
At least, that seems to be the consensus of area employers who say the Killeen-Fort Hood employment market is robust.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics latest report, unemployment is at 7.8 percent nationally. The Texas Workforce Commission’s latest numbers show that Texas is doing even better, with an unemployment rate of 6.3 percent. Unfortunately, the unemployment rate is higher than that in the Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood Metropolitan Statistical Area, at 7 percent. But a quick look at the numbers reveal there are plenty of opportunities.
“The jobs are absolutely out there if you look,” said Kimberly Patterson, business services manager at Workforce Solutions of Central Texas. “In general, we were never hit as hard as the rest of the country, but a lot of opportunities have emerged recently. ... It takes some effort, ... but I believe there is a job for everyone out there.”
Patterson said the education, office and administrative and health care sectors are fueling the growth.
“Twenty percent of the job postings currently in our system are education related,” she said.
In fact, Texas A&M University-Central Texas’ employment
website shows multiple openings for adjunct faculty and miscellaneous staff. Central Texas College is another local educator actively recruiting for positions across the board.
“Right now, we have 45 jobs open just between our Fort Hood campus and our main campus,” said Narja Carter, human resources recruiting supervisor at CTC. “The biggest thing we need is adjunct faculty. We need instructors. We also offer online classes, so we have online instructor positions as well. There are also a lot of clerical and support positions currently open.”
As of Thursday, the Killeen Independent School District’s website listed two opportunities for administration and professional support positions. There are also posts for 11 “auxiliary” positions such as secretary or educational aides for special education.
Steve Cook, chief personnel officer for Killeen ISD, said the district is always looking for qualified teachers.
“The Killeen Independent School District experienced a very productive hiring season this year,” Cook said. “Our biggest challenge continues to be what all school districts struggle with, attracting the required number of highly qualified teachers who are certified in state and district declared critical teacher shortage areas. Specifically, those areas are physics, chemistry, mathematics and special education certificate holders.”
Cook said there are enhanced opportunities for qualified Texans.
“Killeen ISD recruits teachers from many universities across the nation who produce education majors,” he said. “However, with reduced budgets, our job fair focus has remained within the state of Texas over the last several years.”
Health care seems to be following right behind education.
“Our next biggest sector right now is health care, which comprises 13 percent of the jobs we currently have listed,” said Patterson.
Patterson said the growth of Metroplex Healthcare System, Scott & White and the Seton Healthcare System are driving unprecedented job growth.
Brenda Coley, director of human services at Metroplex, said Metroplex is “consistently hiring new employees,” and there is a growing demand for specialized professionals.
“We’re adding some additional services in our pharmacy area, and we are looking for pharmacists,” Coley said. “We’re looking for physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists.”
Coley stressed a successful applicant will have more than just the appropriate technical or professional credentials.
“We want qualified people who are interested in not only offering quality technical services, but also a high level of patient service. The customer service aspect is very important.”
There also seems to be a robust market for administrative support jobs. Sixteen percent of the jobs currently listed at Workforce Solutions of Central Texas are for office support. Aegis Communications, one of the biggest local employers in that category, has hired 1,200 people since July, according to Susan Parkhill, site director at Aegis’ Killeen office. Aegis provides call center services for several large clients.
“I can tell you we just hired 100 people this past Monday, and we hired just over 200 the previous Monday,” Parkhill said. “We will be hiring around 175 more seasonal employees by the middle of November. The easiest way to get hired is to just come by. You can certainly apply online, but if you come by in person, there is a good chance you will get an interview on the spot.”
Patterson said there are likely opportunities in industries that are not well-represented in the commission’s job bank. For instance, she pointed to the fact that only 3 percent of the jobs in the bank are in food service.
“For years, service industry was the largest sector in the area,” she said. “We have seen some changes there, but that number seems low.”
Patterson said restaurants and retail chains often have their own systems to recruit, so interested job seekers need to seek those jobs out personally.
Jeff Powell, owner of Razzoo’s in Harker Heights, agreed. He said Razzoo’s depends a lot on word of mouth and reputation to attract new employees. But for those interested in applying he offered some simple advice.
“It might be a generational thing, but it can get frustrating to get so many online inquiries,” Powell said. “Don’t rely so much on the ease of applying online. Get yourself together, walk in physically, shake a hand and say, ‘I’d like to work here.’”
More opportunities are on the horizon.
H-E-B Senior Resource Manager Beth Shinn said the grocery store is about to start a new wave of hiring predicated by plans to expand their store in Copperas Cove to an H-E-B Plus.
“We are about to start the hiring process for the new ‘Plus’ store we are opening in Copperas Cove,” Shinn said. “It will depend on how many current employees transfer, but I expect 70 to 90 new jobs to be created by the expansion.”