Job seekers seek fresh start two years after Oahu stay-at-home order

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – At the Blaisdell Center, 70 companies are looking for candidates as those looking for jobs go from booth to booth.

It’s almost hard to imagine that on Wednesday two years ago, Oahu’s stay-at-home order went into effect, followed by the statewide governor’s order. It left businesses and beaches empty – virtually wiping out normal life as we knew it.

“A lot of people I know were upset. Friends, nobody really liked it, but now we’re here. Back to normal,” said job seeker George Warnock.

The Blaisdell was empty, but now people are back in full force.

“I can’t believe it,” Warnock said.

“It’s exciting. There are a lot of people looking for jobs. A lot of people are looking for a fresh start,” said Scott Peters, job coach at Lanakila Pacific.

“Maybe something happened during the pandemic. Maybe they weren’t happy with their situation,” he added.

The last Careers Expo took place last August and planners say planning again was a challenge due to surges.

Planners say that before the pandemic, companies had the upper hand and could be selective with applicants.

“They could be picky about the hires they sought. There were more applicants than there were jobs and people’s lives were changing,” said Career Expo event organizer Denise Ching.

It is now a job seekers market.

“People are now looking for a career, they have options. That’s what’s different. These companies are here, some of them never needed to be here,” Ching said.

“We have Hawaiian airlines here and everyone wants to work for Hawaiian airlines and they have 600 jobs available,” she added.

After two years of hardship, people here are optimistic, and at 11:59 p.m. Friday, Hawaii’s indoor mask mandate comes to an end.

“It’s exciting. It will be nice to see everyone’s smiling faces,” Peters said.

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