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The American construction marketplace has confronted numerous challenges over the past few years. In addition to disruptions and the renewed call for safety precautions based on COVID-19, construction firms nationwide have been besieged by material shortages, rising costs and widespread labor issues.

And even though the industry is projected to grow by 8.8% in 2022, the same problems are expected to persist well into the near future. In fact, NCCER recently confirmed the “finding and hiring of skilled workers” is still one of the industry’s greatest challenges. However, the organization also noted that the problem has accompanied “the unique opportunity to refurbish” and “emerge stronger than before.” This includes “building cultures that attract long-term talent,” “making the industry a great place for young workers to shine,” reinforcing the value of continued learning programs and helping workers find “dream positions” that “leverage better opportunities.”

Fortunately, there are employers nationwide that have already addressed these issues, while capitalizing on the hire of dedicated, hard-working and disciplined individuals—who in many cases have a spent a decade or more serving our country. According to Paul R. Lawrence, the former under secretary for benefits with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: “Each year, nearly 200,000 service members transition from the military back to their civilian communities.” For officers, this means entering the workforce with about 11 years of leadership experience, while enlisted personnel tend to leave the service after about 15 years.

As for their career choices, “15.5% of all veterans enter the construction industry.” This equals more than 650,000 veterans now working in the construction and extraction occupation.

Among the many benefits to these employers has been the access to a workforce that embodies loyalty, dignity and teamwork. U.S. Army recruits are expected to live by the Soldier's Creed and Warrior Ethos. This includes serving the people of the United States, always placing the mission first, never accepting defeat, never leaving a fallen comrade, never quitting and always being “disciplined, physically and mentally tough” as “a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.”

As a result, these ethics alone have directly combated a longstanding problem suffered by nearly every business sector: a general lack of personal responsibility and preparedness. U.S. veterans are trained to show up on time, listen, learn and do a good job. In fact, the military has a saying: "If you're early, you're on time. If you're on time, you're late. And if you're late ..." 

And these qualities extend from the teaching of combat and battle skills to the ability to cope logically, intelligently and honorably under intense life and death situations. From basic training throughout their term of service, whatever the length, recruits, cadets and soldiers are embedded with the value of trust, hard work and perseverance. A soldier lives by his or her word. Failures are dreaded and the very notion of letting team members down is unacceptable.

Plus, leadership entails more than giving orders. Leaders know when to follow and lead by example. Each day a soldier is on the job is a day they are dedicated to doing their best. The desire to inspire others to work hard, be better and learn more should never be underestimated.

There’s also a reason why the United States has the most feared and powerful military in the world. In addition to having the world's most advanced military technologies, the U.S. Armed Forces are “highly trained and ready to respond at a moment's notice to natural or human-made disasters anywhere in the country or the world.” This, in turn, has instilled U.S. military personnel with the ability to enter jobsites with the skillsets learned in real-world situations, a respect for procedures and the need to overcome adversity, while staying on task.

In addition, the United States military "is known around the world for the diversity of its population." As a result, the personnel of every branch are taught throughout their service to “work side by side with individuals regardless of diverse race, gender, geographic origin, ethnic background, religion and economic status as well as mental, physical and attitudinal capabilities.”

Furthermore, every employer nationwide, including those representing the construction, contracting and building industries, should take advantage of the many skills offered by these valiant individuals through the Department of Defense (DOD) SkillBridge program. The initiative provides service members with the opportunity “to gain valuable civilian work experience through specific industry training, apprenticeships or internships during the last 180 days of service.” This includes the ability of employers “to access and leverage the world’s most highly trained and motivated workforce at no cost,” while also providing service members with the added training needed to succeed in the next phase of their lives.


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