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Now that the construction industry is looking forward to happier days again, contractors of all types and sizes are looking to beef up their workforce. That’s good news for America’s veterans looking to transition back into civilian jobs. In fact, the construction industry has formally announced a plan to promote hiring veterans, pledging to fill more than 100,000 construction industry jobs with them within the next five years.
This massive effort to increase employment for veterans was announced in February at a national symposium jointly sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor and Joining Forces, a White House initiative started three years ago by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden to assist military families.
Speaking at the symposium, Michelle Obama said, “I know that you all have made this commitment not just because it is the patriotic thing to do, which it is. You’ve done this because you know that it is the smart thing to do for your businesses, because you know that America’s military turns out some of the highest skilled, hardest working employees this country has ever seen. And that’s particularly true when it comes to the construction sector.”
She noted that, in the course of their military service, vets have “built cities in the middle of deserts halfway around the world. They’ve built schools in remote villages. They’ve repaired complex machinery in combat zones in the middle of the night. In short, our troops have taken on some of the most challenging projects in some of the most inhospitable places under some of the toughest deadlines and constraints.”
In other words, veterans are more than ready to tackle even the toughest construction projects.
As the industry finally looks forward to significantly increased work opportunities, construction firms are facing serious labor shortages. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts construction will grow faster than the economy in general, requiring more than 1.5 million jobs over the next eight years. That’s an annualized growth rate of 2.6%.
Meanwhile, the number of available construction workers is woefully small compared to that need. Trade schools and other training programs are scrambling to turn out more skilled graduates for the construction trades, but no one believes they’ll be able to meet the demand.
The industry needs qualified people, and veterans need jobs. More than 100 U.S. construction firms have already signed on to the hiring pledge, including some of the largest international companies like Bechtel and Jacobs as well as numerous regional firms, local contractors and subcontractors. Another 80 construction companies say they’ll re-focus their current training and employment efforts on hiring veterans for new construction jobs.
These are good-paying jobs, and coalition members say the First Lady is right on target when she notes veterans are ideal candidates. Contractors are looking to take advantage of military-instilled organizational planning and leadership skills as well as technical know-how learned in the service. Personal characteristics such as integrity and discipline and the initiative to do what it takes are essential on construction sites as well as in maintenance yards.
Veterans coming out of service are looking for career opportunities to take them and their families through the next stages of their lives, and they’re looking to locate all around the country. Teaming up with the construction industry is a win-win opportunity.
Is your construction company planning to hire vets? Leave us a comment or send us your story.