Hundreds of careers are still available in the Brownsville area, and employers are interested in talking to anyone who’s looking during the second Coffee and Careers Expo, scheduled for Nov. 15 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Brownsville Events Center.

The first expo took place June 28. The month’s follow-up event is happening earlier than anticipated, since so many employers who missed out the first time around expressed the desire to take part in the next one, said Helen Ramirez, deputy city manager and executive director of the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation, which is organizing the expo with the city of Brownsville.

More than 40 employers will be on hand this time and more than 2,000 positions are being offered, she said. In addition to the larger employers that participated in the first expo and will be back this time — DHR Health, National Electric Coil, Southwest Keys and SteelCoast, for instance — m ore mid-sized companies and organizations will be taking part, Ramirez said.

The city of Brownsville is among those hiring and has about 200 open positions. Several industrial employers will be represented, as will the Brownsville Independent School District, Brownsville Public Utilities Board, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and Texas A&M, hospitals, state agencies, law enforcement, the U.S. Army, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection among others.

“What I like about it there’s different sectors, from case management to medical to welding, manufacturing,” Ramirez said. “It runs the gamut.”

Most of jobs being offered are high-paying, skilled and feature pathways to advancement as well as benefits and in some case, signing bonuses, she said. Ramirez encouraged anyone considering a career change or thinking about reentering the workforce to check it out, and extended the invitation to anyone who has moved away from the Rio Grande Valley and is contemplating a return.

Employers across industries nationwide are having a tough time finding enough workers in what’s been dubbed the “Great Resignation of 2021.” A record-breaking 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August while at the same time more than 10 million jobs were available. Ramirez said experts are still trying to figure out what’s going on but she speculated that multiple factors are at work.

“I think we’re still seeing the effects of COVID, although people are vaccinated for the most part,” Ramirez said. “We have a great participation rate of over 80 percent.

Recovery is probably slower than we anticipated.”

Many people were furloughed or laid off during the pandemic, others got used to working from home and aren’t ready to go back to the office, and still others have started their own businesses rather than go back to working for someone else, she said.

“I think people had to innovate in their own household, and the question is are they continuing to do that?” Ramirez said.

The potential for some percentage of employees being able to work remotely is something the city, for instance, is having to think about as it seeks to fill positions, she said. Ramirez said she’s anticipating a “great awakening” as people realize just how many career opportunities are available.

Careers and Coffee, which organizers are billing as the largest in-person career expo in South Texas, will feature free head shots and tips on how to handle a job interview. Admittance to the expo is free, as is the coffee, though participants are asked to fill out a simple, free registration form online in advance or at the door on the day of the expo .

“If they just want to show up they’re absolutely welcome just to show up,” Ramirez said . “If they want to pre-register, they can.”

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Careers and Coffee Career Expo
WHEN: Nov. 15, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
WHERE: Brownsville Events Center, located at 1 Event Center Blvd.