There are 1.3 million active duty members of the military and every year approximately 200,000 men and women leave US military service to return to life as civilians, a process known as the military to civilian transition. And even though veterans bring competitive skills to civilian jobs, as well as the core values cultivated by the military, e.g., dedication, teamwork, communication, it’s not always easy to find work.
Unemployment rates are currently at historic lows at 3.8% on average for the entire country with some states showing even lower numbers, according to the Associated Builders and Contractors. When veterans return to civilian life, they face intense competition for jobs. The US government has tried to level the playing field for vets.
Government Acts That Promote Hiring Vets
HIRE Vets Act
In 2017, Congress passed the Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans Act (HIRE Vets Act). The Act awards companies who hire vets via the HIRE Vets Medallion Award program. Employers who apply for the award must meet certain criteria depending on their company size as there are different awards for large employers (500-plus employees), medium employers (51-499 employees) and small employers (50 or fewer employees). Criteria for all levels is based on:
- Percentage of new hires during the previous year that are veterans.
- Percentage of veteran employees retained for a period of at least 12 months.
- Percentage of employees who are veterans.
- Provision of an employee veteran organization or resource group to assist new veteran employees with integration, including coaching and mentoring.
- Provision of programs to enhance the leadership skills of veteran employees during their employment.
- Employment of a dedicated human resources professional or initiatives to support hiring, training, and retention of veteran employees.
- Provision of compensation to employees serving on active duty in the United States National Guard or Reserve that is sufficient, in combination with the employee’s active duty pay, to achieve a combined level of income commensurate with the employee’s salary prior to undertaking active duty.
- Provision of a tuition assistance program to support veteran employees’ attendance in postsecondary education during the term of their employment.
- Employer with an adverse labor law decision, stipulated agreement, contract debarment, or contract termination, as defined in the rule, pursuant to either of the following labor laws will not be eligible to receive an award: Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act or Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act.
Additionally, there are two award tiers: platinum and gold. Verification of these criteria includes a self-attestation by the applicant and a check for violations of veteran-related labor laws by the DOL.
Veterans are also under a protected status with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), creator of the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA). VEVRAA applies to companies that do business with the federal government—specifically federal contractors or subcontractors with a contract amount of $150,000 or more and 50 or more employees.
VEVRAA exists to prohibit employment discrimination against protected veterans. VEVRAA also establishes a hiring benchmark, indicating that 6.4% of the total workforce should be veterans. Protected veterans are all individuals who served on active duty in the U.S. Military and did not receive a dishonorable discharge.
- Disabled Veterans
- Recently separated veterans (within the last three years)
- Active-duty wartime or campaign badge veterans
- Armed forces service medal veterans
Compliance with VEVRAA encompasses the hiring process and requires the documentation of all good faith recruiting efforts.
Why Veterans Make Great Construction Employees
Beyond government incentives and regulations for hiring veterans, former members of the military can make great construction employees. Through their military experience, veterans have learned transferable skills that benefit the construction industry. According to the National Center for Construction Education and Research, these skills include:
- Leadership Skills – The military’s hierarchical system helps train leaders within each rank and teaches how to communicate with and inspire people.
- Team Players – Military units are all about working together to achieve a common goal. Veterans are also used to working in diverse groups.
- Quickly Adapt – The military is unpredictable, giving veterans the ability to quickly adapt to changing situations. Veterans are flexible and can pick up new information quickly on the jobsite.
- Self-Motivated – Highly-disciplined, veterans hold themselves accountable and require less supervision, making them ideal for a mobile workforce.
- Reliability – Veterans understand commitment and how their actions affect others so they’re more likely to be relied upon at work.
- Good Organization Skills – Veterans are used to thinking strategically, making them good project managers on construction sites.
- Task-Orientated Mindset – Veterans learn to prepare for assignments, no matter the obstacles. Veterans are able to adapt to the harsh conditions of a construction site, as well as other unforeseen circumstances.
- Heavy Machinery Operation – Many veterans have experience operating heavy machinery like bulldozers and cranes.
- Ability to Meet Deadlines – Veterans are used to completing tasks while dealing with time constraints and stressful conditions.
Veterans are a highly skilled, diverse set of individuals who often have the experience and skill set that make them highly qualified candidates for any construction company. In honor of Veterans Day, make a plan to hire more veterans.
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Contact us today to learn more.