FALL RIVER, MA, SEPTEMBER 7, 2016….When Amazon opens its new 1-million-square foot fulfillment center this month the online retailer will not be scrambling to hire new employees. The operation will be fully staffed with nearly 500 new hires recruited through the Fall River Career Center.
For more than a year, staff at the career center worked closely with Amazon executives to set up a hiring process that ensured the company will have the right people in place when the doors open. Career Center staff orchestrated everything from helping local residents fill out the online application to finding hotels where Amazon executives could stay while they worked to get the facility open.
Amazon executives said they are sure the career center is the reason the company was able to find so many successful candidates.
“In all my experience, I have never seen this level of community engagement and support,” said Andrew Sweatman, Amazon’s general manager for the new Fall River fulfillment center.
Sweatman, who has opened several facilities around the country, said often it is hard to find enough new employees. “We require a lot of people,” he said. But in Massachusetts, the coordinated efforts between the career center, Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia’s office, Bristol Community College and local legislators helped get the word out and generate excitement about the facility’s opening, he said.
“I have zero concern we will not be able to fill our headcount requirement,” Sweatment said.
The efforts to help Amazon hire new employees exemplify a larger strategy within the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) and the Commonwealth’s 32 One-Stop Career Centers to match unemployed residents with companies that need talent. EOLWD mobilized One-Stop Career Centers to respond rapidly to employers that have hiring needs.
Joseph Vianna, director of the Fall River Career Center, said the goal was to create a relationship with Amazon that lasts not just for this hiring round, but far into the future as well.
“This is so great for the state, so great for the region,” Vianna said. “If other companies can see the collaborative effort we have here.”
Amazon execs and staff from the career center held a hiring and orientation event for four days in August at Bristol Community College. Prospective employees who made it through the online application process were brought in for a company briefing, where they learned about the expectations of the job. The one-hour sessions gave new employees an idea of a day-in-the-life at Amazon.
Katlyn Rogers, 21, of Fall River, and Matt Dechaine, 19, of Westport, said they heard about the Amazon job openings through the career center. They were both working part-time at T.J. Maxx but wanted a full-time job. They said it has been hard to find full-time work.
“I’m super excited. It seems like a great environment,” said Rogers, during the hiring orientation last month. “Plus we love Amazon; who doesn’t.”
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