The Mechanical Contractors Association is implementing new recruitment and informational programs to attract additional skilled labor to the construction workforce. In collaboration with Local Union 597, the organization has launched the “Tomorrow Team” program, an aggressive image campaign that addresses how skilled labor is perceived by young workers.

“Many people - particularly younger workers - see skilled labor careers as menial and low-paying,” says Steve Lamb, marketing spokesperson for the Mechanical Contractors Association local affiliates and executive vice president of MCA Chicago. “We're working harder to promote apprenticeship programs, which have launched thousands of promising careers.”

The program includes a CD and a comic-book style informational guide featuring four every-day characters - Supervisor Woman, Service Tech Dude, Pipe Fitter Chick and Contractor Man - as they enter the pipefitting industry.

“The 'Tomorrow Team' comic book shows that there is science in a career in the piping industry, and it can be fun and very rewarding,” says Lamb.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the average construction worker is 47 years old. A recent study by the Construction Industry Institute reports that the industry will need to attract 240,000 workers each year to replace those leaving the workforce or retiring - all while still allowing for industry growth.