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Building a workforce

"The 18 to 35 age range doesn't really exist," said Frank Marchese Jr., organizer for the New York State Laborer's Union. "The young men and women, they are vital. The workforce is aging out daily. We need them for our existence as well."

Because of the type of job construction work entails, Manning said people could start out at age 18 or 20 and retire when they are 45. But with pensions, health care and other benefits provided to them through the industry, retiring at that age would not be a problem.

It also helps that the apprenticeship programs are free, and kids won't have to take out student loans that would put them in debt.

"It's an honest day's pay for an honest day's work," Marchese said. "There's stability, advancement and training in a variety of skills. I think the biggest benefit is the abilities learned. There are a lot of opportunities. The sky is the limit."

There is also a push to attract more women into the industry. Manning said that while it may have been frowned upon 40 years ago to allow a woman into the construction workforce, currently, some of these positions require a woman's touch.

"A lot of the crane operators are women," he said. "The controls are so delicate. Sometimes a woman's touch is better than a man's because that is dictating what the machine is going to do."

Even though there have been reports that due to the current economic situation construction jobs are few and far between. Marchese said this is not the case in the Capital District with many aging infrastructures in the area, as well as the arrival of nanotech companies.

"The last few years have been leaner than years past," he said. "The business is cyclical. There will be room for a lot of infrastructure work.""

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