Helmets to Hardhats Canada got a pre-Remembrance Day shot in the arm from the Ontario government with the announcement that the province is investing $511,000 in the Pathways to Post-Military Employment program to support the return of 180 military veterans and reservists to civilian life.
The program is in its eighth year of helping veterans obtain jobs in the construction industry, with a record of placing 1,040 veterans in construction jobs so far across Canada, around 400 in Ontario.
Helmets to Hardhats executive director Joseph Maloney was on hand at the Interior Finishing Systems Training Centre in Woodbridge Nov. 9 as Premier Doug Ford announced the assistance.
“Veterans returning to civilian life have skills that local employers need,” Maloney said. “This project will help them build upon the many existing talents they gained through time in the armed forces to unlock good jobs in the skilled trades.
“Thanks to the participation of all 14 building trades and their employer counterparts, veterans have 61 occupations to choose from.”
Pathways to Post-Military Employment will offer job matching with employers in the construction sector, provide formal skills evaluations and assist with on-the-job training. Besides jobs on the tools, the program also targets positions in management, administration, planning, scheduling, logistics, security, engineering and accounting.
Offering support are Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU), the Council of Ontario Construction Associations (COCA), the Electrical Power Systems Construction Association, the Construction Labour Relations Association of Ontario, Veterans Emergency Transition Services Canada (VETS Canada), the Royal Canadian Legion Ontario Command and Good Shepherd Ministries.
“It is a very positive story,” commented Sean Strickland, executive director of the CBTU. “We at Canada’s Building Trades Unions, we see it as our patriotic duty to help the veterans.
“The skills they develop while serving our country are very transferrable to opportunities in the skilled trades. The discipline, the technical skills, the work ethic, all are transferrable to the construction industry.”
COCA president Ian Cunningham similarly noted that members of the military are well trained and disciplined.
“With little additional training, those who choose to leave military life can hit the ground running and enjoy fulfilling and rewarding careers and make strong contributions to our industry,” he said. “Depending on their experience, aptitudes and ambitions, some can find jobs on the tools and others in administrative and management roles. Their military experience positions them well for success. That’s why COCA supports Helmets to Hardhats.”
Veterans made personal sacrifices and put their country first and thus deserve the opportunity to pursue a future in the construction industry, Cunningham said.
Ford said, “Today, many veterans are struggling as they leave active service and transition back into civilian life. Now is the time to help them train for new well-paying and rewarding second careers and give them a chance to contribute to Ontario’s economic recovery.”
There are currently 639,900 veterans in Canada and 232,200 in Ontario. About 5,000 service members leave the services each year.
The allocation will also help homeless veterans living in Toronto with housing, after-care support, food, clothing, medical care, addiction support and mental health services in Toronto.
Helmets to Hardhats announced its new partnership with VETS Canada in October, targeting veterans who are at risk and homeless.
“We want to make sure that any and all veterans are aware of what is available through Helmets to Hardhats and no veteran is left behind,” said Maloney.
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