To date, Carlsbad, Calif.-based Helmets to Hardhats, the national program that connects National Guard, Reserve, and transitioning active-duty military members with civilian career training and employment opportunities within the construction industry, boasts 150,751 registered candidates, 85,620 listed positions, and 37,901 applicants. Currently, the organization is working toward accelerating the speed at which qualified candidates are placed in apprenticeship or journeyman positions. It is in the midst of promoting its direct entry process throughout the United States, which will allow applicants to bypass any waiting lists for apprenticeship or journeyman positions.

A total of 24 direct entry/support proclamations have been signed by state governors. Once the state proclamation is signed, it allows all building and construction trade departments, Joint Apprenticeship Training Councils, and locals to immediately accept men and women with skills commensurate with what is required in their apprenticeship programs and provide them with credit for their military training and experience through a process called “Special Consideration.”

“We try hard to take the military background experience, training, and education and put it into particular trades,” says retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Matthew P. Caulfield, executive director of Helmets to Hardhats. “If the person has military skills commensurate with what is required in the apprenticeship program, then they can be taken in on an accelerated basis, given credit for all of those skills and placed in second- or third-year programs or even journeyman positions. In addition, by virtue of serving in the military, they can — if the apprenticeship people who do the placement decide it's not mandatory — put them in the front of lines.”

However, not all candidates are as highly skilled. The qualifications of most candidates are that they are high school graduates, drug free, and have records of accomplishment over four years in one area or another.

“What we attempt to do is to teach them about the particular trades,” Caulfield says. “In many instances, they don't have a clue — all they know is they're interested in construction. The overwhelming majority aren't electrically trained, but they're highly trainable.”

Contractors interested in a free listing with Helmets to Hardhats should visit the Web site at www.helmetstohardhats.org, and click on the “Post Your Jobs” link at the bottom of the page.