This Veterans Day we will be celebrating the millions of brave men and women to whom we owe our freedom. On this day, we should also be asking ourselves how we can serve the veterans and transitioning military who have so honorably served us.
It is very easy in our busy lives to take for granted the liberties and freedoms we have here in the United States. But as we wake up each day and go to work, we need to remember that there are roughly 844,000 veterans who are currently unemployed and looking for work. Unemployment is undeniably a concern for our entire population, but to have men and women return from combat only to wonder how they will support their families is inexcusable. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the need for workers in the construction industry will grow at twice the rate of other industries in the coming years; therefore, we need to make employing these men and women a priority.
As leaders in the construction community, we are in a position to do just that. The construction industry offers many high-wage career opportunities for our servicemen and women that also include competitive benefits and technical skills training. More importantly, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), NCCER, our partners and member companies offer the opportunities for individuals to earn a living and support their families while developing their careers through apprenticeship or accredited training programs. Employers need a reliable and highly skilled workforce and veterans bring field experience, a strong work ethic and leadership skills from their military service.
We understand that transitioning from military life to the civilian workforce is often one of the most difficult challenges our veterans and transitioning military face. According to a 2012 study, 60 percent of veterans listed “finding a job” as the greatest challenge in transitioning to civilian life. To address this, NCCER’s Build Your Future (BYF) initiative, along with many ABC member companies, have simplified their search by proudly offering resources and special training opportunities for veterans interested in exploring a career as a craft professional. Among these is BYF’s Military Crosswalk, which identifies how Military Occupational Skill codes match up with craft occupations and NCCER’s credential programs.
As a reflection of the patriotism seen throughout our industry, ABC joined NCCER and a coalition of more than 30 members of their military task force in a pledge with First Lady Michelle Obama and U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez to hire more veterans in construction. This commitment made by the owners and contractors these organizations represent is to hire 100,000 veterans and returning military to work in the construction industry over the next five years.
For all of these reasons and more, the transition from life in the military to life as a civilian craft professional is a great fit, both for our veterans and for our industry; however, we know our industry is not alone in the opportunities it provides for our returning heroes or for its desire to help veterans. Please join us this Veterans Day in thanking these courageous men and women for their service to our nation and in finding additional ways to serve those who have served us throughout the year.
Mr. Brodbeck is the 2014 Associated Builders and Contractors national chairman and Mr. Whyte is the president of NCCER
by Dan Brodbeck, Chairman, Associated Builders and Contractors; and Don Whyte, President, NCCER