It’s well known that we are facing a critical shortage of skilled tradespeople in this country. As more tradespeople approach retirement and more young people opt for college degrees over the trades, we have more vacancies than people to fill them. Contractors are already struggling to fill positions of hourly craft workers.
It may be less known that military veterans face high unemployment. According to a report put out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, of 370,000 unemployed veterans, nearly 60% are between 25 and 54, and another 4% were between 18 and 24. Overall unemployment sits at about 3.7% nationally.
Among the efforts to address the trades shortage are Mike Rowe’s foundation and President Trump’s executive order that expands apprenticeship and on-the-job-training opportunities, in part through the launch of the National Council for the American Worker and Apprenticeship.gov.
Within the PVF industry, the UA’s Veterans in Piping (VIP) program is positioned to help address the skilled labor shortage. It provides free courses military bases around the country, providing graduates with “industry-recognized certifications and a direct entry into solid private-sector jobs with good pay and benefits.” It’s a boon to the trades and the job placement guarantee makes it invaluable to the service members, who face high rates of unemployment on reentry to civilian life.
Participants can choose from three fields: HVAC-R, welding and fire protection. Each program is an 18-week accelerated course, followed by an apprenticeship. As with apprenticeships outside of the UA VIP program, apprentices get good pay and benefits, including health insurance and retirement benefits.
It’s important to note that the program is geared specifically toward active-duty military in the process of transitioning to the civilian workforce. Veterans that have already transitioned are not eligible to participate in the UA VIP program but are welcome to train through the UA’s apprenticeship program. More information available at their website.