Helmets to Hardhats: Career transition success stories

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CDCR staff writer

Helmets to Hardhats has placed hundreds of veterans in satisfying and well-paying careers in unionized construction trades. Here are some testimonials from the helmetstohadhats.ca site. (The website respecting individual privacy, doesn’t provide the full names of individual veterans, but does for the union business agents/representatives.)

Windsor: Sheet metal worker

When Nicole applied for a sheet metal worker apprenticeship, little did we know how fortunate we were. The apprenticeship committee told me after interviewing her that not only was she the most prepared and by far the best applicant ever interviewed, she scored the highest on our aptitude test! She is now well underway in her apprenticeship at Industrial Metal Fabricators.

Nicole helped out at the Women in Construction Booth at this year’s Future Build and received many accolades from the people she worked with there. I personally have never met anyone as pleasant and respectful as Nicole. I know that she will be an asset to our union and am proud to have registered with the Helmets to Hardhats program. I’d recommend others to consider accepting vets from the H2H program – you won’t be disappointed, and you’ll be helping those who’ve done their duty for Canada!

Mike Mahon, business manager S.M.W.I.A Local 235 Windsor/Chatham

“I was completely unaware of sprinkler and fire protection as a career option…”

I would just like to thank H2H for helping me find a new career with Local 853 Sprinkler Fitters of Ontario. The process to getting in was pretty simple with a little patience, and after completing my orientation and working- at-heights training, I was out on a work site within a week. I can honestly say I was completely unaware of sprinkler and fire protection as a career option and it was all thanks to H2H and Local 853 for being supportive of them.

After a few years of unsuccessful searching for a new career before H2H’s support, it is extremely refreshing to find an employer who understands the benefits of hiring a previous member of the Canadian Armed Forces. Thanks again! Andrew

“My training in the program has helped me build strong trade skills…”

I would like to thank Helmets to Hardhats for playing a vital role in my entry to the construction industry. Within just a few days of having contacted H2H, I was immediately placed into a competitive apprenticeship program with one of the most sought after unions in the GTA. My training in the program has helped me build strong trade skills as well as the knowledge and confidence to succeed in the field of construction. Michele L.

“A couple hours later I got a call and they offered me a job to start on Monday…”

I sent the Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons International Association an email with a cover letter and resume, and explained that I was in the Helmets to Hardhats program and that I am in the military. A couple hours later I got a call and they offered me a job to start on Monday.

I have workplace safety training this weekend before I start. Best part about it is that it is right here in Windsor so I don’t have to move. I just wanted to inform you because you have helped me out so much through the process and I really appreciate it. Thanks again. Greg

“More importantly, our contractors have expressed a high level of satisfaction with the work ethic of our vets in the workplace.”

Over the past months we’ve had the pleasure of accepting six of the H2H vets in our local. We were particularly impressed at how quickly they stood out for their professionalism, focus and determination during the applicant process. More importantly, our contractors have expressed a high level of satisfaction with the work ethic of our vets in the workplace. We now have three more candidates that just went through our new intake and we are looking forward to starting these new apprentices within the next couple of months. It’s rewarding to be part of such a winning program, knowing that it can really make a difference for our vets as they transition into a new career and their presence in our brotherhood only makes our union stronger. Michael Reid, business manager United Association (UA) Local 71 Ottawa

“My experience with the Helmets to Hardhats program is that it is positively worthwhile.”

For any program to work there has to be total commitment from all three partners: the apprentice, the union and most importantly the contractor. My experience with the Helmets to Hardhats program is that it is positively worthwhile. I personally believe our veterans deserve respect. The sole nature and purpose of any union organization is to promote fraternal order. When these young men are brought into our organization, they are given a standing ovation. It’s a great fit for us as these new members, due to their military training, are disciplined and have inherent leadership skills. Our contractors’ evaluations are that their performance has been positive. So with these results, we look forward to a continual participation with Mr. Matte and the Hardhats to Helmets endeavour. Ross Tius, business manager, UA Local 663, Sarnia, ON 

“We want you, let us know when you’re available.”

My hat goes off to you, you really helped me out. I had an interview today with UA Local 71 and I was accepted for an apprenticeship position as a plumber starting Aug. 4. They were very up front about being on board with Helmets to Hardhats, and more or less said, “We want you, let us know when you’re available.” I will be picking up my letter of offer on Monday.

Going to see Helmets to Hardhats was one of the best moves I’ve ever made, and one of the most helpful organizations I’ve ever been in contact with. Rob

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