The Washington Post

Construction industry pledges to hire 100,000 veterans

Jill Biden greets guests following a Joining Forces event at the University of Pennsylvania in April 11, 2012. (White House photo).

First lady Michelle Obama and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez on Monday will announce a pledge from construction companies to hire 100,000 veterans over the next five years as part of an initiative seeking to encourage non-government support for former troops.

The agreement, involving more than 100 companies, comes as the construction industry is poised to gain 1.6 million jobs by 2022, giving it the 11th highest anticipated rate of growth at 2.6 percent annually, over that period, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics projections.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Jill Biden. (White House photo). First lady Michelle Obama and second lady Jill Biden. (White House photo)

The agreement is part of the White House’s Joining Forces initiative, which seeks to highlight the needs of veterans and inspire support for them from all sectors of society. Obama and second lady Jill Biden are leading the effort.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Monday, Obama said the construction companies “made this commitment not just because it’s the patriotic thing to do, and not just because they want to repay our veterans for their service to our country, but because they know that it’s the smart thing to do for their business.”

Industry leaders talked up the benefits of hiring former service members in an announcement of the pledge on Monday.

“Veterans are invaluable to the construction industry,” said Larry L. Melton, an executive with Bechtel Corporation, one of the firms involved in the pledge. “Men and women who serve in the military often have the traits that are so critical to our success: agility, discipline, integrity, and the drive to get the job done right.”

Following up on the announcement, the Labor Department plans to hold three roundtable discussions Monday focusing on how employers can tap into the veterans’ community and how former troops can get involved in apprenticeships, as well as credentialing and certification programs.

“All men and women who have sacrificed for our country in our armed services deserve opportunities for good jobs worthy of their character and their achievements,” Perez said in the statement. “The Department of Labor will do whatever it takes to help our veterans translate their skills and leadership into jobs, and I am inspired by the commitment displayed today by the construction industry and all our partners in helping to achieve that mission.”

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks@washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics for more federal news. E-mail with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.



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