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Construction Unions and Veterans = Win-Win


Skills learned in the military are highly sought after by construction unions. SOURCE: AFL-CIO

By Mark Colangelo

This Veterans Day, beyond parades and ceremonies, we can honor our veterans by helping meet their needs as they transition to civilian life. Chief among them are a solid career, a sense of purpose, and a community. Construction unions are stepping up to provide all three. Initiatives like Helmets to Hardhats (H2H) are turbocharging the process, connecting tens of thousands of veterans with good paying union jobs. By the same token, veterans bring a valuable set of skills to labor unions, who are always on the lookout for top tier talent. Let’s take a closer look at why veterans and construction unions are a perfect match. 


Readily Transferable Skills 

There are many parallels between construction and military life, including an emphasis on training, teamwork, and a structured career progression. New York City’s construction unions have recognized that veterans, seasoned by their time in service, emerge with a work ethic and leadership skills that are valuable in construction trades. They also often have directly transferable skills, like engineering knowledge, logistical planning, and operational management.


Earning While Learning

Union apprenticeships provide a dual advantage for veterans: they can earn a paycheck while getting a valuable education and certifications. This can make the transition to a stable and secure civilian life far less daunting. Furthermore, thanks to the collective bargaining power of unions, veteran apprentices can look forward to fair pay,  comprehensive benefits, and real opportunities for career growth.

The parallels between military life and work in a construction union — training, teamwork, structure — make vets great prospects for the building trade unions.

More Than Just A Job

The impact of joining a construction union goes beyond a paycheck and benefits for veterans. It can offer a community, a sense of purpose, and a collective identity that many veterans miss after leaving the service. The camaraderie found on construction sites mirrors the solidarity experienced in the military, helping veterans to thrive in their new civilian roles. 


A Win-Win

In a construction industry struggling with an unprecedented shortage of skilled labor, veterans transitioning into civilian life are a deep pool of talent for construction unions to recruit from. Their training and experience on the battlefield make them well equipped to deal with the challenges of a construction site. Meanwhile, for veterans looking to get their footing in civilian life, unions offer everything they need, from pay, to benefits, to a sense of purpose. This win-win situation is one reason to celebrate this Veteran’s Day. 


Mark Colangelo is a writer and blogger.

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