Help wanted, and lots of it: Five Colleges hosting inaugural job fair

  • UMass Amherst campus Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism

Staff Writer
Published: 9/30/2022 9:41:41 PM

HADLEY — The University of Massachusetts has filled 585 staff positions at all levels since May 1 — and it’s still 700 short of being fully staffed.

With more than 13% of its 5,200 positions vacant right now — from security to custodial services and any other nonfaculty positions — UMass is not immune from challenges posed by the regional and national economy, and the employment disruptions caused by the pandemic, in getting staff positions filled.

“We have managed more vacancies and hiring this summer than we normally handle in an entire year,” Vice Chancellor and Chief Human Resources Officer Bill Brady said in a statement.

The vacancies at the four private colleges in the area aren’t nearly as numerous, but there are enough total positions unfilled to warrant hosting a jobs fair next week for all five institutions. The inaugural Five College Jobs Fair is being held in Hadley on Thursday from 2 to 5 p.m. at 400 Venture Way, off North Maple Street, where UMass and Smith, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Amherst colleges will band together for one-stop shopping for job seekers.

Five College Consortium Executive Director Sarah Pfatteicher said the organization is pleased to coordinate the event as a service to the member campuses and the larger community.

“The jobs fair will be an excellent occasion for attendees to explore local employment opportunities available in higher education,” Pfatteicher said.

More than 100 positions will be featured at the fair, ranging from administration, campus safety and dining services to information technology, alumni relations and library services.

Five Colleges spokesman Kevin Kennedy said the jobs fair is organized through the consortium’s Talent Acquisition Committee, which began considering staging it last spring, feeling that an in-person event this fall would be an appropriate way to address the shortage in applicants.

“This idea has not happened before,” Kennedy said. “The thinking is that the five campuses together can attract greater attention than they each can on their own.”

The Five College Consortium has information at its website,, that provides links to the job portals for each of the colleges and UMass.

At UMass, the human resources team already spent the summer months working on getting new staff hired for positions related to student support services, medical and mental health providers, dining services, and those supporting grant-funded research.

UMass has also attempted to increase its visibility throughout the region to reach job seekers, putting on its own hiring events and participating in other regional hiring fairs, and this school year is undertaking a refined marketing campaign and a new website focused on job applicants.

While the job vacancy rate at UMass had exceeded 10%, they tend to be lower at the other colleges.

At Smith, for instance, about 97% of positions are filled, based on data from its Human Resources Department, spokeswoman Barbara Solow said.

Smith will be at the job fair recruiting for positions in a variety of departments and with varying levels of experience, Solow said.

“Our staffing needs continue to evolve as we seek people with the skills, perspectives and experiences that can best help us serve the college,” Solow said.

At Hampshire, there are 29 current openings on a campus that employs 390 people, said Jennifer Chrisler, chief advancement officer for the college.

The positions at Hampshire include full time and part time jobs, from entry level to administrative, and are across areas including admissions, advancement, student affairs, campus safety, facilities and grounds, dining, information technology, finance, and the Early Learning Center.

At Amherst, there are 65 openings in a variety of positions.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at
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