NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Nearly a thousand people were camped out Monday in Long Island City to apply for a job with the steamfitter’s union.

Most didn’t know anything about the technical trade, but CBS 2’s Amy Dardashtian learned that in a tough economy, people are willing to learn anything to get a job.

Yahaira Cabrera, 30, has applied to more than 70 jobs since being laid off last year.

“Last week I was on line too for a plumbing job,” Cabrera said.

She was one of nearly 1,000 people standing in a line that stretched 10 blocks in hopes of getting a spot in a five-year steamfitter apprentice program with Local 638.

“We gotta thank God for this opportunity because the economy is terrible,” Cabrera said.

The pay starts at roughly $24 an hour, but the union said licensed steamfitters could make six figures.

Nelson Pula traveled all the way from Florida to apply for one of the 500 available spots in the program even though he doesn’t know much about steamfitting.

“I’m a young man, I can learn anything that’s put in front of me,” Pula said.

Thomas Johnson, 49, said he wants to return to the workforce after sustaining a injury.

“It’s been bad for me the last couple years. I used to be a truck driver, jammed my CDL and this is another way to get ahead again,” Johnson said.

The line started forming on Friday and at least 5,000 other hopefuls are expected to apply by week’s end.

Many applicants will have to wait quite a while to find out if they are accepted into the program. The 500 spots will become available over a three year period.

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