Hiring Veterans in the Construction Industry

Earlier this week we honored the men and women who have served in the various branches of the United Stated Armed Forces by celebrating Veterans Day. The holiday we now celebrate as Veterans Day was first observed on November 11, 1919 and known as Armistice Day. It was established by President Woodrow Wilson to celebrate the armistice, or temporary suspension of hostilities, during World War I that occurred on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 that eventually resulted in the signing of the Treaty of Versailles that officially ended the war. It was established as a legal holiday in 1938 and after both World War II and the Korean War the act establishing the holiday changed its name to Veterans Day in 1954 to honor all veterans who had served in the military.

Now that we’ve dispensed with the brief history lesson I felt that this week was the perfect opportunity to take a look at some of the programs and organizations geared specifically with helping veterans and active-duty military personnel transition to civilian life by helping them get the necessary training and find jobs within the construction industry.

Helmets to Hardhats

We briefly discussed the Helmets to Hardhats (H2H) program in a previous blog post on dealing with worker shortages in the construction industry. The H2H program is a national, nonprofit organization established in 2003 and administered by the Center for Military Recruitment, Assessment and Veterans Employment. A Wounded Warrior program was established in 2007 to help disabled veterans connect with career opportunities in the construction industry.

The H2H program is not a training program or a job placement company. The H2H website connects veterans and active- duty military with career and apprenticeship opportunities in the construction industry. Candidates can register for an account on the H2H website and then create a resume and then begin searching the database for career opportunities. Eligibility varies among the career providers but typically includes being at least 18 years old with an honorable discharge from the military and holds a high school diploma or equivalent. Candidates will also have to pass a drug test, submit to a formal interview and take a skills assessment test. Employers wishing to post job opportunities will have to register on the H2H website and either be a member of an H2H-approved contracting association or meet certain criteria before being allowed to advertise for employment with their company.

While the H2H website does list career opportunities in the construction industry through both public and private employers, a majority of the opportunities available are connected to federally-approved apprenticeship training programs through trade unions and non-union trade organizations and corporations. The apprenticeships offered typically last between three and five years and no prior experience is required to qualify. Because the apprenticeship programs listed through the H2H website have federal approval, veterans can supplement their earned income from their apprenticeship by utilizing their G.I. Bill to receive an additional monthly stipend.

To learn more about the Helmets to Hardhats program visit their website at http://www.helmetstohardhats.org.

Veterans2Construction

The mission of Veterans2Construction is to reduce veterans’ unemployment by assisting veterans to pursue careers in the construction industry and enabling construction companies to hire motivated veterans. The program is a non-profit partnership between Auburn University’s Facilities Management Division and the Center for Construction Innovation and Collaboration and is free to both veterans and partner firms. The program seeks to connect veterans interested in careers in the construction industry with their partner firms who have made a commitment to make strong efforts to hire veterans. The program aims to assist veterans interested in employment in the construction industry through five different career paths. These paths include entry level positions, field engineers, skilled trades, bachelor’s degree in project management and master’s degree in project management.

In addition to linking veterans with construction firms seeking qualified workers the program also provides veterans with information on programs offered through community and technical colleges, apprenticeship opportunities and other online training programs that would prepare them for careers in the construction industry. The program will also assist veterans seeking a B.S. or M.S. in Project Management through Auburn’s School of Building Science as well as providing information on other universities and colleges that provide similar construction management programs.

In order to become a member of the Veterans2Construction program candidates must register on their website. Once registered, members are encouraged to email a copy of their resume and complete a job candidate questionnaire. This information will be shared with partner firms and members will be provided with links to partner firm websites and points of contacts with those companies. Companies wishing to become partner firms with the Veterans2Construction program must provide a letter of commitment supporting veterans and promising to make efforts to hire veterans as well as providing a point of contact for job seekers and a company logo to be added to the Veterans2Construction website.

The Veterans2Construction website provides information on the various career paths including job descriptions, basic job requirements, salary rates and required training and education. Currently there are nearly 40 partner firms in the Veterans2Construction program and each has a page on their website with information including points of contact which is accessible to all registered veterans and partner firms.

To learn more about the Veterans2Construction program visit their website at http://veterans2construction.org/.

Veterans in Piping

The Veterans in Piping (VIP) program was established by the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States, Canada and Australia (UA) General President William P. Hite in 2008. All training costs are paid for by the UA’s International Training Fund and there are programs available for veterans and active-duty military personnel. The goal of the program is to address the growing shortage of skilled workers in the construction industry and the high unemployment rate for veterans. The current unemployment rate for veterans is 6.9 percent which is slightly lower than the national average which is 7.3 percent but the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans is much higher at 10 percent.

Participants must meet basic eligibility requirements similar to those discussed earlier in regards to the Helmets to Hardhats program. Once participants are accepted into the VIP program they enroll in an 18-week accelerated course in either welding or HVACR. Once the participant graduates from the accelerated course they are eligible to gain direct entry into a five-year apprenticeship program. There are a number of apprenticeship programs available that will prepare veterans for a number of careers in the construction industry including welders, HVAC technicians, plumbers, sprinkler fitters, steamfitters and pipefitters.

You can learn more about the UA Veterans in Piping program by visiting their website at http://www.uavip.org/.

There are a number of advantages in hiring veterans for your construction company. Yes, there are still tax incentives available for hiring eligible veterans through January 1, 2014. Others will do it out a sense of national duty to provide an opportunity to those men and women who have served admirably to defend our country and are now struggling to find work. Tax incentives and civic duty aside companies who hire veterans are tapping into a workforce full of mature and disciplined people with a strong work ethic and a myriad of skills. Many veterans have strong leadership abilities and are experienced in working effectively on a team.

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