The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) is working in cooperation with the Building Trades and other construction associations to support the "Helmets to Hard Hats" program, initiated by Major General Matthew P. Caulfield (Ret.), to recruit retiring military veterans into the construction industry in an effort to address the severe workforce shortage. General Caulfield is striving to create the Center for Military Recruitment, Assessment and Veterans Employment to pave the way for men and women leaving the military to enter an appropriate branch of the trades.

In his recent address to attendees of the recent annual Construction Alliance National Issues Conference, held in Washington, DC, April, 2002 and cosponsored by NECA, General Caulfield presented his program as the logical answer to a serious problem. "Military veterans are ideal candidates for work in the construction industry because they are high school graduates, drug free, have a record of dependability and are trained in leadership and to be sensitive to diversity, among a variety of skills," said Gen. Caulfield. "The Center for Military Recruitment, Assessment and Veterans Employment will provide the construction industry a consistent pipeline of workers to alleviate critical workforce shortages."

The Center will be used to assess the training an individual receives in the military and how that might relate to his/her placement in the trades. It will recruit all sections of the military into all trades. The pairing of persons leaving the military with union trades is an obvious fit as unions provide many of the benefits military personnel are used to receiving, i.e., health, pension, continuing education.

"This program is a win-win-win for all involved parties," said NECA Government Affairs Director Robert White. "It is a win for labor, a win for management and, most importantly, a win for military veterans."

Gen. Caulfield estimates that the construction industry must recruit 1.6 million workers over the next five years and has set a recruiting goal for the Center of 700,00 men and women over that period. NECA is supporting federal funding for the creation of the Center for Military Recruitment, Assessment and Veterans Employment.