I'd like to share information regarding an important recruitment program called Helmets to Hardhats. This program is a construction industry initiative to provide career opportunities in Apprenticeship to men and women who are veterans of the Armed Forces. The industry recognizes that military training and experience is an excellent background for completion of skills training and placement in the skilled trades. Unfortunately, military requirements often make placement processes established for civilian counterparts difficult to access, and unique military training and experience does not necessarily match seamlessly with civilian requirements. Helmets to Hardhats bridges the gap between the military and apprenticeship programs at appropriate levels, helping to properly evaluate military experience and training for suitable placement. This bridge greatly benefits both veterans and the building trades.
Helmets to Hardhats is a response to future critical workforce shortages that threaten the maintenance of our nation’s infrastructure. The construction industry realizes that former military men and women are an important source of skilled workers and believes that these workers will have a positive impact on the industry. The industry is committed to the belief that the men and women who serve in the Armed Forces deserve our assistance, and this program is a way for the industry to show its appreciation to these exceptional men and women. The program also provides an opportunity for those who have defended our nation to continue serving by engaging in careers that help build and maintain our nation’s infrastructure. Former military men and women are ideally suited to become apprentices and face the challenges that lie ahead. By capitalizing on the values learned in military service we will create an American construction industry workforce second to none.
Helmets to Hardhats was conceived by the leadership of the Building and Construction Trades, AFL-CIO, which represents approximately 3 million members and Contractor Associations, which represents approximately 82,000 employers. The program is directed by governing boards made up of the top leadership from both labor and employer organizations — including international presidents of BCTD affiliates and presidents of the largest contractor organizations in the nation. These leaders are committed to ensuring that former members of the Armed Forces are provided access to the every opportunity in the construction industry, as well as making certain that military service and training is properly valued.
Why Focus on Transitioning Military Personnel and Veterans?
Military veterans make ideal candidates for apprenticeship in the construction industry because:
- They are educated – high school graduates, drug free, record of dependability, trained in leadership, diversity and in many skills;
- Government unemployment costs are higher for veterans than non-veterans, particularly in the 22-26 age groups;
- It makes economic sense to leverage military training in apprenticeship programs;
- Former members of our Armed forces deserve the best opportunities.
The Helmets to Hardhats Official Website can be reached at
Watch the story of how an Iraq war veteran became a union ironworker through Helmets to Hardhats.