Steve Fulop, the mayor of Jersey City and a veteran, announced Tuesday that the city is joining with the Elizabeth Development Co. to launch a “Helmets to Hardhats” training program — an effort that will help women and minority veterans transition into jobs in the construction industry.
The program, utilizing a $300,000 grant awarded to the EDC from the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development, will launch its first initiative in Jersey City to serve Hudson County veterans and will soon expand to serve Bergen, Essex and Union counties.
Elizabeth Development Co. Executive Director William O’Dea said the program has had great success elsewhere.
“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.”
In Jersey City, the mayor’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. Commitments for service are being received through the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Hudson County/Jersey City Workforce Development Board.
Fulop, a veteran of the Marine Corps, said he was eager to get behind the program.
“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,” he said. “This program provides that direct connection to meaningful employment, which can often be a major challenge for veterans reintegrating into civilian life.”
Of equal importance is the support of partners in the Building Trades. This grant is 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 No. 3, OPCMIA Local No. 29, Teamsters Local 560 and Carpenters Local No. 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.”
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.