Early last week at a National Symposium on Veterans’ Employment in Construction hosted jointly by the Department of Labor and Joining Forces it was announced that over 100 construction industry companies had committed to hiring more than 100,000 veterans over the next five years. In addition, more than 80 other companies have pledged to help put veterans into new construction jobs with their existing training and employment programs. Joining Forces is a national initiative founded by Michelle Obama and Jill Biden that is committed to raising awareness about the service, sacrifice and needs of military families with a focus on employment, education and wellness.
The symposium was held on February 10, 2014 in Washington, D.C. and if you missed the announcement you can watch a video of it here.
This is a win-win situation for all parties involved. As we’ve discussed in a few of our previous blog posts, the construction industry is facing a skilled worker shortage and hiring hard-working, dedicated and highly-skilled veterans is one of the many ways construction companies will need to turn to in order to bridge the gap. For veterans and active-duty personnel this initiative will provide men and women transitioning to civilian life more opportunities to join a growing industry with a diverse range of careers in good-paying jobs with many pathways for career advancement.
The announcement was followed by a series of roundtable discussions that focused on the details of how the initiative’s goal to hire over 100,000 veterans can be accomplished. Some of the topics discussed how veterans can get credentials and licensed for specialty trade work, identifying training programs and apprenticeships that veterans can apply their G.I. Bills toward and how construction companies and veterans can connect and discuss job opportunities whether it’s through programs like Helmets to Hardhats or places like the American Job Centers.
The way I see it the construction industry has two main hurdles to overcome in order to obtain their goal by 2019. The first is finding a way to market and advertise careers in the industry to veterans and active-duty military that makes them more attractive than companies in other industries that are also actively placing veterans in civilian jobs. The sheer number of careers available in the construction industry including everything from engineers and architects to project managers and estimators to electricians and masons should make this an easy sell. The other major obstacle the industry faces is developing best practices in identifying the skills and experience gained through military service matching them up with careers in construction. With over 180 companies and organizations committed to training and hiring veterans for construction industry jobs should make this a fairly easy task.
Programs and initiatives dedicated to training and hiring veterans for careers in construction is not a new concept. We previously discussed hiring veterans in the construction industry in a blog post back in November where we highlighted programs like Helmets to Hardhats, Veterans2Construction and Veterans in Piping.
I attempted to obtain a list of companies and organizations that joined the pledge to train and hire veterans in order to give them the recognition they deserve but unfortunately Joining Forces and the construction industry are still compiling the list and it is uncertain if a complete list will be published. The companies and organizations mentioned in the announcement include Jacobs Engineering, Bechtel Corporation, Cianbro Construction, the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and the Home Builders Institute (HBI) which is the workforce development arm of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
The stakeholder organizations like the NCCER, AGC, HBI and Helmets to Hardhats program will be working with Joining Forces in providing assistance to construction companies dedicated to hiring more veterans along with support and advice from the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service and Employment and Training Administration. This industry-wide approach will maximize the number of job opportunities available to veterans and at the same time spread the responsibility of fulfilling the commitment to hire over 100,000 veterans over the next five years to all the companies that have vowed to make this goal a reality.
If you work for or know of a company that has pledged to be a part of this initiative please take a moment to let us know in the comments section below so they get the recognition they deserve.