MOORHEAD-A group of people looking to start a new career and a mix of companies looking to hire were put together in the same room here Thursday, Jan. 25.

What may result remains to be seen, but indications are jobs may be forthcoming for at least some of the five recent graduates of a welding training course at Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Moorhead.

"There's a big need out there for you guys," Kendra Goette told the newly minted welders, who had gathered for a speed interviewing event at M State.

Goette, a representative of Preference Employment Solutions, was one of about eight staffing agency or manufacturing company recruiters who interviewed five welding-job hopefuls, including Jonathan Maldonado, of Moorhead.

Maldonado said his goal in taking the welding course was to better himself and improve his job possibilities.

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"I eventually want to be my own boss," Maldonado said.

The mini job fair was made possible by a collaboration that included M State along with the United Way of Cass-Clay and the Lakes and Prairies Community Action Partnership.

One role the United Way played was in providing resources that support the work of Amy Feland, a workforce development case manager hired by Lakes and Prairies.

Part of Feland's job involves making ongoing contacts with the graduates of training courses to help them overcome hurdles to employment, which may include lack of transportation and child care services.

Feland said not everyone finds a job right away, but there have been success stories.

She said one of them involves a young man and welding training graduate who has been working at a welding job for about a year.

On top of that, Feland said the man's fiancee also has a new job after receiving training to become a certified nursing assistant.

When it comes to jobs, Goette said there is a strong demand for people with skills in many areas.

"It's not just welding, it's the trade industry," said Goette, who added people shouldn't let talk of robots taking over the workforce discourage them from pursuing a trade.

"They're still going to need people to fix things," she said.