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Queens-based Council for Airport Opportunity aims for career takeoff

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Before the coronavirus pandemic, the Council for Airport Opportunity of New York and New Jersey had planned on opening an office in Far Rockaway. Despite the delayed opening, the council has still been connecting individuals in Queens and the Five Towns with potential jobs in the aviation industry.

CAO is a nonprofit trade association created in 1972 in collaboration with airline companies, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Mayor’s Offices of the City of Newark, and City of New York and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The association’s mission is to identify and address the critical employment needs of the communities surrounding the New York and New Jersey airports, while at the same time responding to the hiring needs of the airport tenants and the aviation industry. The aviation industry is responsible for more than 700,000 jobs in the metropolitan region, according to CAO officials.

“This pandemic has been quite a time of learning and understanding of where we can expand and further our services in different communities,” said Verdia Noel, CAO’s Director of New Business Development. “We’ve been able to introduce our services to people who did not know we existed and bring better insight into what CAO is about.”

Executive Director Andrew Campbell said the Far Rockaway office was scheduled to open in March 2020. Even with the office still not opened, Campbell said that the council has been holding virtual workshops for people in the Far Rockaway area on resume and cover letter writing and interviewing. 

“We offer a lot of career advice to people, as we’ll have them sit down with an account manager, talk about their interests and what their skill sets are,” Campbell said. “We do these virtual employer information sessions that are similar to a job fair.” CAO’s main office is located in Jamaica, Queens. They have a satellite office in Corona.

Campbell added that the council emphasizes reaching out to people in communities to make them aware of job opportunities available at John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport.

“Once the job postings are out there, we’ll prescreen individuals to see if they’re qualified for the job,” he said. “For the candidates that aren’t qualified, we want to make sure it was worthwhile for them. We stay in touch with them and try to connect them to other opportunities.”

 Matthew Walker is the outreach specialist for CAO. He said he’s established relationships with community-based organizations in the Rockaways and southeast Queens. He noted that throughout the pandemic, he has also contacted organizations in the Five Towns such as the Five Towns Community Center.

 “We’re trying to make those connections in Nassau County to try and help the individuals in those communities,” Walker said. “A lot of times, we reach out to these organizations and they're happy to work with us because it’s been such a hard year for so many people and particularly for those out of work. CAO comes in and helps potentially find them a job at the airport.”

More information on the Council for Airport Opportunity can be found on their website: https://www.caonynj.com or by call the Jamaica office at (718) 523-7100.