Some wore suits and ties. Others wore blue jeans and T-shirts.
All wanted jobs.
An aerospace job fair and career expo held Friday drew thousands of people, jamming the Lynnwood Convention Center with people circling around looking for parking spaces. At 10 a.m., an hour after it opened, roughly 1,500 people already had filtered in. Organizers expected a turnout for the day of between 3,000 and 5,000 job seekers.
Becky Hanrahan of Lake Stevens is looking to re-enter the workforce after staying home to raise her children for the last 10 years. She's taking college courses in business and marketing online and is interested in an administrative position at Boeing.
Hanrahan and a friend took turns looking at booths while the other waited for more than an hour in line to talk to a Boeing representative. Looking around at the crowd of people packed into the convention center, Hanrahan said she wasn't surprised by how many people showed up. In fact, she thought there might be even more of a turnout.
"I know tons of people who are unemployed," said Hanrahan, who was letting a friend stay with her family while he looked for work.
Boeing had eight booths at the aerospace job fair, which was organized by the Center for Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Materials Manufacturing and Dr. Richard Strand of Richard and Associates.
Through the first eight months of 2011, Boeing has added more than 6,000 workers in Washington state as the company boosts its production pace on all of its commercial aircraft programs.
The company's Michael Greenwood has been working with representatives of the state's community colleges and aerospace training organizations. Greenwood said he was pleased with the progress so far, noting that several short-term training and certificate programs had been launched recently. A dozen community and technical colleges also had booths at the expo and representatives available to talk about training programs.
Boeing's Greenwood said the company is interested in ensuring a steady pipeline of skilled workers not only for itself but also for its suppliers and the industry.
In an interview Friday, Mark Riffle, chief executive of Arlington's AMT, said the company, which supplies Boeing and Airbus, sees too few candidates with the technical skills to meet its needs. AMT had a booth at the job fair Friday. Like other aerospace suppliers in the region, AMT also loses trained workers to Boeing.
"We're still seeing some level of churn" of manufacturing employees, he said.
The job fair also attracted six buses full of high school students from around the region. Collin Harris and Edgar Anthony III, both Meadowdale High School seniors, attended the job fair. They've worked on cars in their shop classes the last few years and were told their mechanical skills could transfer to the aerospace industry.
"We know Boeing has a lot of good job opportunities," said Harris, who said he'll likely look for a position in the industry after he graduates.
Organizer Strand said he'll track how many people applied for jobs after attending the job fair, the first specifically geared to the aerospace industry in the state. Future aerospace job fairs are being considered in other locations, he said.
That might benefit job seekers like Sean Dayley, who traveled from Federal Way to attend the event. Dayley worked for Boeing for two years before being laid off. He has spent the last decade in landscape management but said the tough economy is making that business too competitive.
"I'm directing my energy" and management skills in a different direction, he said.
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