by Shawn Chitnis

SAN JOSE (KPIX) — Caltrans says they saw good turnout for yet another job fair in the Bay Area on Saturday as they continue to recruit new employees to work for the agency under the Clean California campaign launched by the governor this summer. They are also looking to fill vacancies and plan to recruit across the nine counties in the Bay Area.

“It’s challenging, understandable because of the pandemic,” said Byron Lim, the acting program manager for Clean California. “Caltrans is hiring, Caltrans has positions available so come on in.”

Gov. Newsom announced the $1.1 billion project to reduce litter and beautify the state in July with the goal of hiring 11,000 employees.

Caltrans staff said Saturday they have 250 current openings in the Bay Area. While filling positions remains a challenge in the current economy, California had one of the highest unemployment rates in the country last month and added fewer than 50,000 jobs. The agency says interest is high for their openings because of the benefits and opportunity for growth with state government jobs.

“At the job fair we had in Oakland, we had a tremendous response and also here, we had people in line at 7 a.m.,” said Cheryl Chambers, the deputy district director of external affairs for Caltrans.

District 4 includes the Bay Area for the agency. “In some ways it’s challenging but in other ways because of the pandemic, people are looking for work, people are looking for new industries to work in,” Chambers added.

The openings available now for the Clean California campaign are service assistant maintenance positions which are considered a low-barrier job. Applicants on Saturday completed all the necessary paperwork and then waited for a chance to interview another day. Chambers says the number of people applying pushed them to remove on-site interviews so they can take in as many candidates during a four-hour window.

“Everyone, everywhere has seen it and this is a way of Caltrans to lean in, engage the community,” Lim said Saturday about the ongoing issue with litter along highways.

The agency is looking for people with any licenses or specialized training to submit their qualification as part of the application process but remains open to hiring people of all backgrounds. They do want candidates who are vaccinated but offer testing for those who want to opt-out.

“We’re looking for veterans, we’re looking for people with disabilities, people who may have been experiencing some of the justice system, students, at-risk youth, what have you, we are really looking for everyone who’s willing to have a job,” Chambers said. “We are looking for people to be vaccinated but that’s not a requirement. But we do do testing if people are not vaccinated.”

While the current job market has not impacted their workforce at an operational level, they say they are always in need of new workers beyond the positions created by the governor’s campaign.

“We have the people we need but there’s always turnover, there’s always retirements so we’re always looking for new talent,” she said.

If you are unable to attend an upcoming job fair, you can visit http://jobs.ca.gov to apply online.