Lineups were long as the 8th annual Employment Ontario Job Fair drew thousands of employment seekers to the Western Fair on Wednesday.

They are teachers, factory workers and professionals, all armed with resumes and hope for a brighter future.

At 8.5 per cent London’s unemployment rate is among the highest in the country, which may account for the higher than expected attendance at the job fair.

Richard Eisele recently moved to London from B.C., but he’s given up hope of finding a job as a teacher and is looking for any job leads.

“Are they commensurate with the salary that I had previously gotten? Maybe, maybe not, but in all honesty I don’t care. I just need a full-time job that keeps me busy, keeps my family fed.”

Fifty employers, social and temp agencies were at the event, with both local businesses and out-of-town companies represented and opportunities in industries from retail to agriculture.

Brian Mallot, an employment consultant, says there are jobs if you know where to look.

“The difficulty is you have to do a lot more digging now than you used to to find the jobs. The hidden job market’s probably more and more important than it used to be.”

Kellie Cheaker has an accounting background and was recently laid off after ten years at a local firm.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking with the younger [people] to compete against,” she says. “But you know I’ve got the skills from my background working, so hopefully I have that going for me.”

But not everyone is confident they can find work locally.

Todd Miller has been in and out of the workforce over the last year and thinks relocating may be his best option.

“For London itself I feel very discouraged, but outside of London there’s a lot of work in rural Ontario, a lot of work.”

In previous years, many applicants were able to schedule interviews and find new employment as a result of the fair.