Helmets to Hardhats: Career training, job placement for women, minority veterans

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (WABC) -- Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and Hudson County Commissioner William O'Dea on Tuesday launched "Helmets to Hardhats," a program designed to help National Guard Reserve, retired, and transitioning active-duty military members connect with career and training opportunities in the construction industry, and assist with job placement.

Utilizing a more than $300,000 grant awarded to the Elizabeth Development Company (EDC) from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the women and minority veteran program will launch its first initiative in Jersey City to serve Hudson County veterans and will soon expand to serve Bergen, Essex, and Union counties.

O'Dea also serves as executive director of the EDC.

"We have been very successful in getting women and minorities into construction union apprenticeships and are excited with now having the resources provided by the state to recruit and train military veterans so they too can have a career as a laborer, carpenter, plumber, or truck driver," O'Dea said. "They gave for our country, and now we can give back to them."

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In Jersey City, Mayor Fulop's Office is providing critical support to the application process.

The Jersey City Employment and Training Program has also been instrumental throughout the implementation process, and commitments for service are being received through the Division of Veterans Affairs and the Hudson County/Jersey City Workforce Development Board.

"I'm one of the 7% of Americans who are veterans," said Fulop, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. "Jersey City is a diverse community and home to many veterans who proudly serve their country and return home to find themselves in need of work. This program provides that direct connection to meaningful employment, which can often be a major challenge for veterans reintegrating into civilian life."

There is also support from partners in the Building Trades, and the grant was made possible by strong partnerships with the various trades that serve the area.

Pat Kelleher, president of the Hudson County Building Trades, was instrumental in garnering support for the application. LIUNA Local #3, OPCMIA Local #29, Teamsters Local 560, and Carpenters Local #253 all provided verbal and written support.

"This grant is vital to increase the participation of women and minority veterans in the building trades," Kelleher said. "I have been working with Mayor Fulop and Commissioner O'Dea for many years on achieving this goal. We recognize this Helmets to Hardhats program will provide the resources to reach and serve our veterans effectively and serve as a pathway for our vets to achieve a rewarding career with our affiliated trades. The Hudson County Building and Construction Trades Council is committed to ensuring the success of this program."

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In addition to hands-on construction training, OSHA-30 certification, and placement assistance, every effort will be made to ensure the long-term success of each veteran that participates in the program.

EDC will be working with the American Legion to ensure the program is accessible to the maximum number of veterans possible.

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