SAINT PAUL, MN (December 14, 2017) — The Construction Careers Foundation is proud to announce the hiring of Joel Welter, a pipefitter and active member of the U.S. Army Reserve, to lead a new effort to attract veterans as well as active duty members of the military to careers in construction in Minnesota.
The Construction Careers Foundation is a Saint Paul-based nonprofit dedicated to fostering and developing construction career pathways for Minnesotans, especially young adults. Working in tandem with the national office of Helmets to Hard Hats, a national nonprofit organization that helps introduce military vets to career opportunities in construction, the Construction Careers Foundation will build a program, supported by a two-year grant totaling $400,000, approved during the 2017 session of the Minnesota Legislature, to recruit, retain, assist and support National Guard, reserve, and active duty military members’ and veterans’ participation in construction trades apprenticeship programs registered with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. Activities covered under the grant also include connecting active members and veterans with career training and employment opportunities in the building and construction industries.
To facilitate the Helmets to Hardhats program in Minnesota, the Construction Careers Foundation has established an advisory committee consisting of key influencers within Minnesota’s construction and military communities that will help guide efforts to attract military veterans and active military to construction apprenticeship programs in Minnesota. Construction trades include such as professions as boilermakers, bricklayers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, glaziers, elevator constructors, ironworkers, painters, heavy equipment operators, welders, roofers, steel metal workers, pipefitters, and more.
Welter will work with veterans of all ages representing all branches of the military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard) to help them learn more about opportunities in the construction trades. While the majority of Helmets to Hardhats applicants are servicemembers transitioning out of active service, Welter also will work with active members of the Reserves and National Guard.
Over the last 14 years, Helmets to Hardhats has assisted with more than 25,000 successful transitions of military vets throughout the United States. The nonprofit connects transitioning veterans to the best careers in the construction industry. Veterans received world-class apprenticeship training in the skilled trades from North America’s Building Trades Unions. No prior construction experience is needed.
“As a veteran myself, what Minnesota veterans want more than anything is the encouragement of their fellow citizens that there will be a job waiting for them when they get home,” says Welter. “They just want the opportunity to prove themselves.”
The commander of the 728th Construction Management Team within the Army Reserve, which he joined in 1995 out of high school, Welter understands about that which he speaks. The St. Anthony Village resident has served one-year tours in both Afghanistan and Iraq. A 2000 graduate of the University of Minnesota, he joined Pipefitters Local Union 539 in 2003 and went through the union’s apprenticeship program in his journey to become a professional pipefitter.
In his new role, Welter will be paying close attention to veterans who entered the military service immediately after high school, and have not yet had the opportunity to develop their civilian career.
“These people often have the most difficult time adjusting to civilian life,” says Welter, “more often than not, they’ve never had a career, and they’re told that the only way to be successful is to go to college. But the reality is that college isn’t right for everyone. That’s where we come in – careers in construction pay well, have excellent benefits, and Minnesota’s Building Trades Unions offer professional training through their apprenticeship programs.”
Welter says Minnesota construction companies want military vets precisely because of their military background.
“Vets understand what it means to show up on time. They understand a chain of command, which all construction sites need to work smoothly,” says Welter, “And most of all, vets understand the bonds of working together as a team.”
To learn more about Helmets to Hardhats, visit www.helmetstohardhats.org or call the Minnesota office of Helmets to Hardhats, located in Saint Paul at 763-354-4546.
About Helmets to Hardhats
Helmets to Hardhats is a national program that connects National Guard, Reserve and transitioning active-duty military members with quality career training and employment opportunities within the construction industry. The organization is funded by the Center for Military Recruitment, Assessment and Veterans Employment (CMRAVE) administers the H2H program. CMRAVE is a non-profit Section 501(c)(3) joint labor-management committee established under Section 302(c)(9) of the Labor Management Relations Act. Funding and support come from private foundations, employers, employer associations and unions. Eligibility varies based on the standards set by each individual career provider. Veterans must be at least 18 years of age, have an honorable discharge, have a high school diploma or equivalent, pass a drug test and complete a formal interview.