PASO ROBLES — Teenager Levi Lynch donned the sleek welder’s mask and proceeded to weld with the assistance of 35-year veteran Pete Mitchell at the California Mid-State Fair.
Lynch then tilted the mask up and turned his head to the video screen of the virtual reality trainer to see how he did.
Mitchell patted him on the back and said, “You’re hired.”
A couple of minutes later a family of four settled in front of the Plumber and Steamfitters Local 403 booth and were virtual welding within minutes.
Lynch, of Paso Robles, said using the trainer was fun and got him thinking about the future.
“I liked doing it,” he said. “It’s something I’d consider doing as a job.”
Which is exactly the goal of the first-ever Career Fair at the Fair in the Edna Valley Barn on the north end of the grounds.
“I think it’s been fruitful,” Mitchell said. “It looks fun and people want to try it out. We want them to realize this is more than just a job, it can be a career.”
Mitchell explained that there are high-paying, in-demand jobs available in these fields and they offer apprenticeships and schooling for people.
“It’s great outreach,” Mitchell said of the Career Fair at the Fair. “Not everyone is going to be a doctor or lawyer. We can show them something else.”
In addition to Local 403, IBEW Local 639 and Ironworkers Local 155/433 had booths set up in the barn.
A steady stream of people made their way around the booths learning about the trades.
Sean Perry was manning the IBEW Local 639 booth and already planning for next year.
“Next year we are going to adapt what we have to bring it here,” Perry said.