Question: A perennial criticism of government is that it doesn’t do enough to help veterans find civilian employment after their time of military service is up. What policies could public officials or the industry adopt to help more veterans find a career in the trades?
Robert Dennik, vice president of VJS Construction Services: “If federal and state governments would like to be more serious about helping veterans they would offer tax credits for job training and tax holidays for veterans that would like to go into the trades. The shortage of skilled tradespeople is growing and anything that can be done to help would be welcomed by the industry and organized labor.”
John Schulze, director of government and legal affairs at the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin: “ABC’s apprenticeship folks love working with Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Kathy Marschman, and our members hire as many returning veterans as they can. As far as barriers, we see a cultural bias towards a four-year degree over apprenticeship training. I wish veterans knew how much construction employers appreciate their problem-solving skills, and how a construction career can be both personally and financially rewarding.”
Brad Boycks, executive director of the Wisconsin Builders Association: “I think improving the lines of communications between veterans’ groups and trade associations and their associated foundations would be a very positive first step to showcase the construction industry as a great opportunity for veterans. I believe members of the Wisconsin Builders Association and the Wisconsin Builders Foundation would very much welcome this conversation in the future to help address the worker shortage issue in our state.”
Dave Branson, executive director of the Building and Construction Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin: “North America’s Building Trades Unions are actively recruiting veterans through programs like Helmets to Hardhats and Veterans in Piping. These programs have been offering veterans to find the proper placement and secure careers in the construction industry.”
Ken Kraemer, executive director of Building Advantage: “The union construction industry has many programs that promote veteran hiring. The United Association established the Veterans in Piping program to equip military service members preparing to leave the service with sought-after skills that will hopefully lead to lifelong careers in the pipe trades, and the Helmets to Hardhats program connects retired and transitioning active-duty military-service members with skilled training and great career opportunities in many of our trades as well.”