WASHINGTON, DC — People leaving the military want to find quality jobs. The construction industry, including those in the HVACR field, has long been seeking more quality workers. The new “Helmets to Hardhats” program intends to bring them together for the benefit of all.

At the recent Campaign for Quality Construction, National Issues Conference, sponsored by the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA), National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), and Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA), Major General Matthew Caulfield (retired) introduced the assembled contractors to the program, along with Joseph Maloney, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department. Officially introduced at the Building and Construction Trades Department/AFL-CIO legislative conference and sponsored by eight contractor associations including MCAA, NECA, and SMACNA, the formal name for the nonprofit labor-management initiative is “The Center for Military Recruitment, Assessment, and Veterans Employment.”

The center was founded in response to the growing workforce shortage seen in the construction industry, said Caulfield. It will “transition people coming out of the military into the construction trades.” The goal is to recruit approximately 700,000 men and women from the military community over the first five years of its operation. The center is scheduled to open in 2003.

“Military veterans need the high-quality jobs with consistent benefits that the construction industry offers,” he stated.

Caulfield noted that almost all of those getting out of the military are high school graduates and, because of their military training, they have a “record of dependability.” He pointed out that 8% are married going in, but 65% are married coming out, so they are looking for a career.

“We need to put these people together with employers,” he said.

The program includes marketing to people in the military about the opportunities available in the construction trades, and also marketing to the construction trades about military people.

The center will provide information on specific job opportunities. It will assess the military training of those who apply. It will provide credit for military experience in apprenticeship placement. And it will connect the job seeker and employer.

The program is designed to maximize the country’s investment in the armed forces, enhance a positive perception of value in military service, and reduce unemployment expenses.

Maloney said that the center will “tap into all branches of the military and apply to all trades.” It will supply employees who are “drug-free” and have a “good work ethic.” In addition to finding out the person’s background and experience from the military, it will provide OSHA safety training.

Also, emphasized Maloney, “It’s not a union-only program. It’s a contractor program.”

Besides getting people to meet the skilled workforce shortage problem, “you’ll get experienced people with management potential,” he said.


Maloney related that the center is hoping to get the necessary funding from the federal government to get the program moving.

It has been reported that Representative John Murtha (D-PA), who is a member of the Appropriations Committee and a retired Marine colonel, is seeking $5 million in the fiscal 2003 budget to fund the center.

For more information on the “Helmets to Hardhats” program, visit www.buildingtrades.org/training/hardhats.html (website).

Publication date: 07/29/2002