National Guard Reserve, retired and transitioning active-duty military members will have access to training opportunities in the construction industry and be assisted with job placement thanks to the Helmets to Hardhats program launching in North Jersey July 20.
The initiative first launched in Jersey City to serve Hudson County veterans, and will soon expand to serve Bergen, Essex and Union counties.
It’s funded with a $300,000-plus grant awarded to the Elizabeth Development Co. from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
“We have been very successful in getting women and minorities into construction union apprenticeships and are excited with now having the resources provided by the state to recruit and train military veterans so they too can have a career as a laborer, carpenter, plumber, or truck driver,” said Commissioner William O’Dea, who is also the executive director to the EDC. “They gave for our country, and now we can give back to them.”
O’Dea and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop announced the program at a press conference July 20.
Fulop’s office is providing support to the application process, in collaboration with the Health and Human Services Department, and commitments for service are received through the Division of Veterans Affairs and the Hudson County/Jersey City Workforce Development Board.
“I’m one of the 7% of Americans who are veterans,” stated Fulop, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. “Jersey City is a diverse community and home to many veterans who proudly serve their country and return home to find themselves in need of work. This program provides that direct connection to meaningful employment, which can often be a major challenge for veterans reintegrating into civilian life.”
Pat Kelleher, president of the Hudson County Building Trades, was instrumental in garnering support for the application, according to Fulop. LIUNA Local #3, OPCMIA Local #29, Teamsters Local 560, and Carpenters Local #253 all provided verbal and written support.
Kelleher said that the grant for Helmets to Hardhats is “vital to increase the participation of women and minority veterans in the building trades.”
Paul Roldan, business manager at LIUNA Local #3, said that “Being part of the Union, guarantees these veterans will have a solid career path that includes fair wages, benefits, and a safe working environment.”
Through the program, the veterans will get hands-on construction training, OSHA-30 certification, and placement assistance.
EDC will work with the American Legion to ensure the program is accessible to as many veterans as possible.