First Posted: 10/25/2012 9:24:34 AM | Last Updated: 10/25/2012 9:36:28 AM
LAFAYETTE – The Great Recession of 2008 continues to takes incomes and livelihoods of workers in Indiana and around the country even today.
With the unemployment rate at 7.8 percent, there is no surprise that everyone knows at least one person looking for work. One fact that may have gone under the radar is the number of “white collar” employees looking for work. Accountants, administrators and engineers – all with years of education and experience – can be found in the unemployment lines with other workers without those credentials.
Services meant to find employment for the unemployed are often designed for the lower skills laborers because, it is assumed, that those with higher and specialized skills will easily find new employment.
“No one was paying attention to the fact that the human resource director and engineers were just as out of work as everyone else in a plant,” said Chris Waymire, president of the Lafayette chapter of Business and Profession Exchange, an organization that focuses on employment of white collar workers.
The Business and Professional Exchange was started in Indianapolis in 1991 to address the needs of former white collar employees. There are now six chapters around the state, including one in Lafayette. Waymire is director of Capacity Building and Staff Development for the Region 4 Work Force Board.
“We were the first chapter outside of Indianapolis,” said Waymire, who has guided the Lafayette chapter since its inception 10 ½ years ago. “BPE was created by three businessmen who were out of work. They just met for coffee on Monday mornings. Before they knew it through word-of-mouth, they were pushing three tables together for their meetings and had to find a new location.”
BPE provides weekly email announcements related to networking and job hunting, access to select Greater Lafayette Commerce and TechPoint events, employment resource materials, weekly networking opportunities, educational and motivational speeches and support groups. There is a registration fee of $30 to join but Waymire said many participants attend without the fee because of their job situation.
He said speakers often highlight skills attendees will need for successful job hunting. Recent speakers included Barbara Tyner, assistant director for human resources for Purdue Research Park, and Robby Slaughter, an Indianapolis networking and management consultant. Abby Kohut, president of Staffing Symphony LLC in New York City, will speak on secrets of the job search process, on Nov. 5.
Waymire said the Lafayette chapter has helped more than 1,000 people re-enter the workforce. BPE meets every Monday at the Faith Community Center, 5572 Mercy Way (off State Route 26 E), starting at 8 a.m.
Waymire, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, has a wide range of experience in hiring and knowing what it takes to get hired. He’s the former director of Subaru’s recruitment and screening when the SIA plant opened in Lafayette. At Subaru, he was asked whittle 50,000 applications to 1,700 for employment over five years. Waymire said his experience taught him the value of giving someone an opportunity.
“Our mission is that help each other by sharing job leads and information,” he said of BPE. “Job transition can be challenging. We’re the only group that will actively work to get rid of you. When you find your next job, you know where there is a room full of talent. If you ask people what’s the unemployment rate, it will depends on who you ask. For people in the room at BPE, it’s 100 percent.”
One can find as many as 30 to 40 people attending BPE meetings in Lafayette. Each meeting, attendees give 30-second “commercials,” which are personal and professional introductions and the working skills they possess. Waymire said BPE attendees often hear about jobs that may not fit their skills but possibly of someone else in the group.
“Up to now, many people have found us through word of mouth,” Waymire said. “One member knows another member. I have 30 recruiters who use us now on a pretty regular basis. They will call and say, ‘Hey, I’m looking for this kind of person.’ Former BPE members who have found jobs will tell their employers about us.”
Lafayette BPE alumni fill jobs all around the Lafayette area as well as jobs around Indiana and across the country.
BPE’s success can be seen in the people who have recently been hired, Waymire said. Recent Lafayette BPE members have been hired at Purdue University, Purdue Research Park, Ivy Tech Community College, Tate & Lyle, M.P. Electric, Wabash National, Leadership Lafayette, Great Harvest Bread, St. Elizabeth Hospital, LEP/Fountana in Frankfort, 3-M in Indianapolis, Archer Western LLC Group in Phoenix, Ariz., the U.S. Marshal’s Service in Champaign, Ill., Polymer Science in Monticello, Skjodt Barrett in Lebanon, Stalcup LP in Thorntown, C&D Batteries in Attica, and Covance Bio Tech Services, Greenfield.
There are two BPE chapters in Indianapolis, one in Avon, Bloomington and Kokomo as well as Lafayette.
Waymire said BPE has met every Monday since 2001. He said as long as there is a need for talented people to find work, BPE will be here to serve them. Meetings are open to the public.
For more information on BPE, call 765-807-0883, or go to: http://bpe.groupsite.com .