GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — For every Grand Rapids city employee who wears a badge or drives a plow, there’s the worker you don’t see.
“Everyone thinks of the people they come into contact with, but behind that is a very highly educated and trained infrastructure of people,” said Jon Koeze, the city’s longtime cable and TV administrator.
His is one example of the job opportunities that exist at Grand Rapids City Hall. Koeze’s been a big part of the way the city communicates with citizens for the last 30 years, having done everything from deal with cable companies to run the cities access channels.
“We were on the forefront of establishing a web presence for the City of Grand Rapids. I wrote the first web page for the City of Grand Rapids,” Koeze said.
But after three decades, Koeze is calling it quits. He’s retiring in July.
He’s not alone. City leaders expect to lose as many as 300 employees to retirement in the next three years, from snowplow drivers to the people who fix them.
“Skilled trades is one of the areas we really are suffering in because there’s a scarcity in the state of Michigan,” said Mari Beth Jelks, managing director of Administrative Services, which includes human resources.
There is a wide variety of positions available. Some are entry level and others require advanced degrees.
“We’re talking about electricians, mechanics,” Jelks listed, “chemists and lab tech people.”
The city is reaching out to the neighborhoods, trying to tap into homegrown talent.
“Our young people here are going to school. We want them to know there is opportunity here in Grand Rapids,” Jelks said.
Among those efforts is a job fair scheduled for 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 28 at Cesar E. Chavez Elementary School on Grandville Avenue SW.
The recruitment effort comes less than a decade after massive cuts. After the economy hit the skids, 500 city jobs were cut in 2009. Whether the city suffered from bloated bureaucracy syndrome at the time is debatable, but the notion of growing the size of city government now is bound to concern some taxpayers.
City leaders are quick to point out their current hiring effort will not lead to growth. They say they’re just replacing people being lost through attrition.
The cuts of the past taught some lessons. No longer are city employees — present or future — wearing one hat.
“When we bring in new people and hire new people, they have to be multifaceted in their talents and capabilities and skills,” Jelks said.
More information on what jobs are available can be found on the city’s website.