Steamfitters Local 449

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Since the late 1800s, steamfitters have built, installed and maintained piping systems, everywhere from power plants to residential homes.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

When the steel mills closed, Mary Kay Babyak, the executive director of an education nonprofit, said she thinks parents didn’t see a future for the their children in blue-collar trade jobs.

“A number of these folks have a history of seeing their parents, their grandparents, their siblings losing positions and opportunities and great jobs,” she said. “So the idea was college will guarantee success. Which it doesn’t.”