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Labor Department’s Helmets to Hardhats Relationship Assisting State’s Veterans

For immediate release
April 4, 2008

WETHERSFIELD, An excellent rapport has developed between the Connecticut Department of Labor and the Helmets to Hardhats organization – and the partnership has helped returning veterans seeking positions in the building and construction trades.

The federally sponsored Helmets to Hardhats program has found a welcome reception here in Connecticut, noted State Labor Commissioner Patricia H. Mayfield, as it reinforces the agency’s strong commitment to assisting returning Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine and Navy veterans in finding jobs and new careers. 

“The Helmets to Hardhats program mirrors many of our own efforts here at the Labor Department, as it places skilled and qualified men and women from the armed forces into promising building and construction careers,” Mayfield explains.

“Designed to ease the difficult transition back into civilian life the U.S. military members and their families often face, Helmets to Hardhats is a natural fit for our agency since it helps our veterans seek out the best possible career opportunities, pay and benefits,” Mayfield added.

Founded in 2003 and funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, Helmets to Hardhats is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and strongly supplements the Connecticut Department of Labor’s Apprenticeship program.

Connecticut’s apprenticeship program, often referred to as “the Other Four Year Degree” for its classroom curriculum combined with on-the-job training, offers career opportunities in more than 400 trades including carpentry, plumbing and masonry, according Labor Department Apprenticeship Program Manager, Jack Guerrera. The agency is the state’s registration agent for the program and staff work with local businesses and unions to ensure curriculum meets required standards.

Helmets to Hardhats, meanwhile, matches returning military personnel with the nation’s 15 top construction and building trade organizations and their employer associations.

“Most candidates will enter one of the building trades’ state-of-the-art apprenticeship programs to learn a trade through comprehensive on-the-job training and classroom instruction,” notes Richard Eckler, Northeast Regional Director for the Helmets to Helmets program. “Typically there is no charge for the training and participants are paid for the time they work. As a veteran, the pay he or she receives from an employer can also be supplemented by education benefits under the G.I. Bill, which adds hundreds of additional dollars to a person’s take home pay each month. In addition, under the apprentice program, a participant’s pay increases periodically over the course of the job.”

According to Guerrera, Labor Department apprenticeship staff work closely with Helmets to Hardhats and promote the organization at various veterans’ events, including a recent Heroes4 Hire job and career fair that attracted more than 1,200 veterans. “We fully support the initiative and its connection to the state’s apprenticeship program,” Guerrera said. “Members in the building and construction trades earn competitive salaries with consistent raises, pension plans and excellent medical benefits, and the skills they have gained while in the military serve them well in these new professions.”

Terry Brennan, Director of the Connecticut Department of Labor’s Office for Veteran’s Workforce Development, notes that his staff also works closely with the Helmets to Hardhats program.

“Approximately 350,000 men and woman, many whom initially had few marketable skills, are being discharged from the U.S. military each year, so the pool of skilled job applicants is quite large,” Brennan noted. ”Many of these veterans return home to uncertain futures. Some may go back to their former jobs, while others may have trouble finding fulfilling work. Helmets to Hardhats provides additional opportunities to those who want to enter a field with a promising future. After defending our nation, it is only right that we give our veterans a chance to build our country.” 

”We value our partnership with the Connecticut Department of Labor,” Eckler said. “The Helmets to Hardhats program has firmly established itself as a force throughout this country and we are pleased that agencies such as the Connecticut Labor Department are helping us to get our message out. Apprenticeship, as well as the Helmets to Hardhats program, is all about providing quality jobs for quality people.”

Those interested in exploring careers in apprenticeship can visit the Connecticut Department of Labor’s apprenticeship Web site at www.ctapprenticeship.com while information about Helmets to Hardhats can be found at www.helmetstohardhats.org.

Media Contact: Nancy Steffens  (860) 263-6535                              


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