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Veterans in Construction: Supporting Our Heroes in Hardhats [infographic]

How to Attract and Retain More Veterans in Construction

Each year, more than 200,000 service members return to civilian life. These incredibly skilled and dedicated individuals have an abundance of opportunities available to them including a chance to build a new career. While veterans bring their skills to a wide range of industries, many find that construction is a fantastic fit for their interest and capabilities.

Veterans, as well as active military members, are a vital segment of the construction workforce. In fact, 15.5% of all veterans enter the construction industry. Today, approximately 666,400 veterans work in the construction and extraction occupation.

In the lead up to Veterans Day, we’ve been showcasing the stories of outstanding veterans in construction. In addition to these individual stories of impact, we also wanted to share a broader perspective on the many ways veterans contribute to the industry on the whole.

While Veterans Day is just one day a year, year-long initiatives that support current and former military members are vital to retaining this valuable segment of the labor force. Below, take a look at our infographic to learn more about the impact of veterans in construction and top-level ways companies can foster their skills in the workforce. Also, scroll below our infographic to learn more about the range of transferable skills military personnel brings to construction.

Veterans-in-Construction infographic

Top Transferable Skills of Veterans in Construction

Due to the labor shortage, there are over 250,000 open jobs in construction in the U.S. Now more than ever, building companies need to hire the best and brightest to fill the skills shortage. Part of this strategy should involve targeting active military members and veterans for recruitment due to their unique skill set. In addition to highly technical skills acquired in many branches of the military, veterans have a plethora of soft skills well suited for the building sector.

Natural Leaders

Veterans have the dual capacity to take orders and lead when the situation calls for it. These leadership skills are critical in the construction industry where large teams need to be motivated to work towards the end goal. Joel Buffardi, Project Superintendent at the New Terminal C Project at LaGuardia Airport, and still active in the U.S. Army Reserve, comments,

“With extensive experience serving at the Brigade level, I have gained the ability to lead staff to plan and manage large complex operations through hardship and sometimes ambiguous situations.”

Joel Buffaradi
Joel Buffardi, Project Superintendent at the New Terminal C Project at LaGuardia Airport

Beyond leading teams and tasks on a project, veterans also excel at heading up the entire construction business. Veterans are twice as likely to own a business as their civilian counterparts. Furthermore, while 9.1% of all U.S. businesses are veteran-owned, 11.4% of all construction companies are owned by veterans.

Mission Oriented Mindsets

In construction, the entire project team is ultimately working towards one common goal–the successful completion of a building. However, given the many challenges of construction, it can be difficult to maintain team-wide focus on the final goal. As a result, having staff who can keep their eye on the prize, is incredibly helpful to keep projects moving forward on schedule.

Military personnel shares the same mission-driven mindset. As a former Navy Fire Fighting Instructor himself, Jerome Solomon, Professional Services Manager at PlanGrid explains, “As we all know too well, construction can be stressful at times; tight deadlines, budget restrictions and under-staffing are things that a veteran will repeatedly face throughout their enlistment. With that in mind, completing the mission comes first, being able to adapt to these obstacles becomes second nature, especially given the high stakes.”

Team Players

In the military, a great deal of camaraderie is fostered. Anyone in the military knows what can happen when teams are well run and leverage their combined power. Likewise, in construction, projects depend on collaboration and coordination to succeed.

Commenting on the historical teamwork that both the military and construction share, Robert Kipp, Army veteran and a General Superintendent for Satterfield & Pontikes Construction, says, “Think about the largest construction company in human history: the Roman Army. The military engineering of Ancient Rome’s armed forces helped build the civilization.” He continues,

“Again and again, we’ve seen this throughout history, from the Great Wall in China to the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. There’ has been no other part of human experience that has been able to mobilize people like military campaigns.”

Robert Kipp
Robert Kipp, General Superintendent for Satterfield & Pontikes Construction

How Construction Companies Can Attract and Retain Vets

Plain in simple, we need more veteran in the construction industry. However, just relying on general recruiting tactics won’t make a significant impact. Instead, construction companies can take a targeted approach to recruit current and active military members.

To hire more veterans, and keep them in the construction workforce, consider the following:

  • Highlight education and training opportunities: After their service, veterans are looking for ways to grow their skill set and build a new career. By helping these individuals grow personally, they are more likely to help you grow professionally.
  • Promote a work-life balance: Veterans have dedicated key periods of their life to serve their country. Many have missed out on important family and life events. Companies that can who promote a work-life balance that they can provide will stand out more to vets looking to make a healthy transition to civilian life.
  • Showcase benefits package: Due to the high-risk nature of their work in the military, many vets prioritize access to benefits like healthcare premiums and 401K plans.  
  • Foster camaraderie and networking: Mentioned above, many veterans thrive in teams and end up missing the camaraderie when they are out of the military. A company looking to hire more current and former military members should showcase their team bonds and networking events outside the jobsite and office.   
  • Connect with organizations and efforts that support veterans: Several trusted organizations have been working to assist veterans in the construction industry. We’ve included a list in our infographic above, as well as listed below.

Finally, remember that above all, each vet is an individual, capable of bringing their unique offerings to a table for a construction company. As Jerome states,

“Veterans don’t want to be known for “being veterans.” We want to be known for what we learned from being veterans.”

Resources for Hiring and Supporting Veterans in Construction

To recruit veterans, it’s helpful for construction companies to connect with associations and initiatives focused on providing mentorship and direction for vets transitioning to jobsites. There are several organizations dedicated to promoting and guiding veterans into careers in construction.

Here are a few of our favorite organizations making a significant impact on vets entering construction:

Getting More Heroes on Our Jobsites

Construction companies who focus a portion of their resources on hiring active military members and veterans will be attracting a highly skilled workforce ready to meet jobsite challenges head-on. It’s time to encourage more veterans in construction today for a better industry for tomorrow.

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Grace Ellis

As a Content Marketing Manager at PlanGrid, Grace is the managing editor for the PlanGrid Construction Productivity Blog. With over eight years of experience in marketing, communications and PR for technology companies, she is specialized in high-quality content creation across both traditional and digital media platforms.

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