Companies are looking for employees to replace retiring baby boomers, and students showed their interest at a job fair at the Pathways Innovation Center on Friday.

"What we are doing is trying to expose and provide opportunity for our students to make connections with businesses and industry," Pathways administrator Ron Estes said.

"What we're doing is working hard to fill that void for our state, keep our kids in the state," Estes said.

The second annual apprenticeship day featured representatives from 43 companies, government agencies, the armed forces, and nonprofit organizations, he said.

The demand is high for skilled workers, Estes said. "We had several kids hired as welders upon graduation. Eight kids in heavy equipment operator last year; they were all hired before they even graduated."

The Pathways Innovation Center has about 330 to 340 students, up from 160 last year, attending from Natrona County, Kelly Walsh, Roosevelt and Midwest schools, he said.

Estes told students that they should begin thinking about their careers and not wait until after they graduate.

Peabody Coal Company representative Shantel Moore said her company offers internships and apprenticeships for coal mining in a competitive economy. "We're here participating in hopes that we can excite the next generation to become coal miners," she said.

Halliburton recruiter Meranda Durnez told Roosevelt students Joseph Sells  and Alex Morin what her company could offer them.

Both students said they're interested in construction.

Alex added that he wants to work with this hands and he'd like to be in the field a lot. "I want to work to live, and not live to work."

Durnez said she's based in Casper, but recruits for Halliburton's districts in Rock Springs, Bakersfield, Calif., and Alaska.

She's also aware that the energy industry is cyclical and makes no secret of that to potential recruits and new employees. "It comes up all the time."

Halliburton trains employees for a variety of positions, in part so they can weather the boom-and-bust cycles that affect the oil and gas industry, Dunez said.

"No job is ever guaranteed," she said.

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