The skilled workforce shortage in construction is not news to anybody working in the industry. Although impacted by the pandemic, construction was not hit nearly as bad as other industries and has begun making gains in employment, adding back 789,000 jobs in the last six months.
As construction workforce needs continue to grow so will the demand for seasoned, skilled workers, particularly as the industry faces the retirement of baby boomers over the next ten years. To begin filling the pipeline of workers, industry should consider one demographic as an ideal fit for the industry –– veterans.
Here are three reasons contractors should hire veterans:
1. Many veterans already have a foundation of the skills needed.
Besides dependability, dedication and problem-solving, many military members learn craft-specific skill sets that will help them succeed when transitioning to a civilian career. In fact, proficiencies acquired in the military are easily transferred over to training programs, meaning that some veterans can easily achieve journeyman status in two years.
“Veterans have already received training and because of that, it speeds up their progress,” said Leslie “Tyke” Tenney, director of Virginia Technical Institute. “A veteran’s skills based on what they’ve done in the military means they have to do less in terms of training.”
To help match those areas of proficiency to recognizable civilian terminology, Build Your Future’s Hard Hat Heroes credentialing portal offers over 90 alignments between military operational specialty codes and NCCER craft modules. Contractors can use these alignments to understand the skills that service members already possess, hire qualified veterans at the correct skill level and continue training where the military left off.
2. Veterans value teamwork.
Being part of a team means the success of the project depends on both individual and group productivity. Veterans understand that teamwork is essential for safe operations and have spent years working closely with their fellow military members.
Sean Ray, a veteran sonar technician in the United States Navy and current director of craft workforce development for Sundt Construction, likens the military camaraderie to that of brotherhood.
“I honestly and truly found that brotherhood feeling again,” Ray said of when he first got started in construction. “There were like-minded people, they were intelligent, willing to teach me, and I kind of fell right in.”
3. Leadership hierarchy is already familiar to veterans.
Self-confidence, decision making and responsibility are traits of an effective leader. The military installs the ability to absorb information, assess what action to take, weigh risks, make decisions and accept responsibility.
In addition, the military trains personnel to lead by example, direction, delegation and inspiration. From knowing when to take orders to when to give them, veterans understand leadership hierarchy. Military members learn to manage behaviors for results.
Josh Hunt, a Navy Seabees veteran and lead journeyman of a wire pulling crew, shares that his military experience helped him realize that if he could manage his military crew of five on his second tour of Iraq, he could manage the wire pulling civilian crew as well.
Approximately 200,000 individuals leave the U.S. military yearly and transition to civilian life. These men and women have the skills the industry needs and the drive to be part of something bigger than themselves. Recruit and retain veterans and help them go from protecting America to building it.
Portions of this post were adapted from “Top 11 Reasons Why Contractors Should Hire Veterans” and can be found here.