OSHKOSH, Wis. (WFRV) – The Fox Valley Workforce Development Board gave 140 laid-off University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh employees the opportunity to find a new job Monday afternoon at a private job fair at the Oshkosh Convention Center.

“It’s helpful to have them all in one place to be able to speak to them all at one time,” UW-Oshkosh administrative assistant Jenny Leichtfuss said. “It’s a shock, both for employees who are leaving and for employees who are staying.”

The employees were laid off a month ago due to a budget deficit, and an additional 76 took early retirement plans, but Leichtfuss, who said she is nearing the end of her career, did not feel completely trusting of that plan given UW-Oshkosh’s financial situation.

“I was offered the voluntary incentive retirement plan, and then I found out about the deficit, and that kind of skewed my decision-making on whether I should take it or not take it,” she said.

While Leichtfuss is in the later stages of her career, Ian Jacobson, a UW-Oshkosh College of Business department assistant and graduate student, is just getting started.

“It kind of blindsided me a little bit,” he said. “So now I’m excited for the future, whereas before this event, I was dreading it a little bit.”

Jacobson said that is because a lot of the employers at the job fair were excited to meet him and his colleagues, and for many of them, he would not have expected them to be interested in hiring him given his background in education.

“You come from education, how can we fit you into a bank? You know, that connection has never been there for me,” he said. “Being able to see them alter my mindset has been really great in seeing how I can take my skills outside the world of education.”

Bobbi Miller, the business manager for the Fox Valley Workforce Development Board, said that skilled employees are in high demand.

“It’s a brisk hiring market, so we still have a lot of companies that are looking for well-qualified talent,” she said. “Obviously this group of workers has a great work history, they’ve got great skills.”

Miller said that the board may consider putting on other hiring events in the future for the UW-Oshkosh employees given the strong turnout.