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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — PPG Paints Arena was filled Saturday afternoon with thousands of people looking for work.

Representatives from 16 commercial trade unions and major contractors in the region were calling those who want to become skilled, trained workers in the trades.

“You have to network and find out and talk to people. Get information, get business cards, get phone numbers, and just put yourself out there,” Schymique Mackson, of the Hill District, said. “Pass your resume around, ask questions. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

Mayor Bill Peduto says job fairs like this are critical because Pittsburgh has the need.

“We have $7 billion worth of new development that we already know is going to be happening in Pittsburgh over the next five years,” he said.

The workshop was held at PPG Paints Arena.

“I believe it’s a great idea, you know. Everybody get together all in one building and, you know, try to move forward,” Clarence Poellnitz, of the South Side, said.

“We need people to know that there’s jobs out here, that they can get a job. There’s opportunities,” Mackson said. “You just have to come out. You have to talk to people.”

With baby boomer retirements looming, around 16,000 construction workers will be needed in this market alone.

“We don’t have the people to build it, so working hand-in-hand with our building trades and making sure that we’re not just asking for people to sign up and have a job, but sign up and have a great career,” Peduto said.

Interest was high with more than 4,000 people in attendance.

“This is incredible. I mean, the turnout that we’ve had today exceeded what anybody thought,” Peduto said. “More importantly, we have a real need for skilled workers in this region.”

“It’s great. It’s an opportunity for a lot of people who don’t have experience in this field that want to broaden the range because, let’s face it, not everybody wants to go to college,” Jonathon McKee, of Baldwin, said.

Apprenticeship training is free and those chosen will likely get paid and earn benefits.