Steamfitters Local 449 is revving up recruitment for its apprenticeship program this summer, citing an upcoming need for construction workers.
According to the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, nearly $3 billion worth of new development is planned for downtown.
Kenneth Broadbent, business manager for the Steamfitters, said the group is looking to bring on about 100 apprentices this summer -- three to four times as many as years past.
"We're going to need more people to work with their hands in a construction industry and more people from the city," he said. "So we're trying to recruit people from the inner city to come into the building trades unions."
An open house this Saturday at the Steamfitters Technology Center in Harmony, Pa., about 20 miles north of Pittsburgh, will hopefully bring in those potential workers. Prospective apprentices will learn about the 17-week program, which is fully funded by union members.
The Steamfitters have held open houses in the past, and Broadbent said some have been surprisingly popular.
"Back in March, we did an open house down at PPG Arena, and we had 4,000 city residents come through," he said. "We were expecting 800."
The demand for skilled laborers, such as welders, has fluctuated in the past, and Broadbent said the Steamfitters only take on apprentices based on how much work they estimate is coming.
"When you train people, you've got to make sure there's a job for them," he said.
The conceptual projects include upgrades to downtown offices, residential units and pedestrian corridors.