A Canadian version of the popular Helmets to Hardhats (H2H) program has been approved to begin in the fall. After years of bureaucratic negotiating, Joe Maloney, who founded H2H to create a pipeline for returning military veterans to begin careers in the construction trades, has convinced his native government of Canada to adopt it:
“It took a little while,” Maloney said. “The bureaucracy is a little different up here in Canada. But now we’re moving.”
Maloney walked the tight rope of Canadian institutions and departments in achieving his goal, according to the Ottawa Citizen:
The Canadian version of the program required co-operation between Veterans Affairs, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, the Canadian Forces, and the Defence Department, as well as representatives from the construction industry.
Corralling all those competing interests, Maloney said, wasn’t easy…
“I think there was some apprehension from the military that we were just trying to poach their best,” he said. “But we’ve cleared a lot of those hurdles now. The bottom line here is everybody is eager to assist our troops.”
According to Maloney the Canadian Military retires 5,000 soldiers a year, a large chunk of whom have many more working years ahead. This program gives them an opportunity to transition into a rewarding and profitable career:
Maloney said military personnel have a great skill set for any employer looking to hire new workers.
“These guys can drop tanks from helicopters: that tells me they know how to rig things up,” Maloney said. “They pilot nuclear subs; they build temporary houses in the desert. It’s a very easy transition for them into the construction industry.”
These skills even give them a competitive edge, he said.
“Our contractors are lining up to get access to some very competent people,” Maloney said. “They’re excited to hire veterans.”
The program has built a solid relationship with the military and can act as a liaison in the troublesome transition to civilian life. It is also a way for employers to show their gratitude to the soldiers that protected them by employing them when they come home from duty.
The program will be available to those in the Canadian Forces reserves, as well as to regular troops.
Maloney said special accommodations will be made for disabled veterans, but he said each case would be treated on an individual basis.
But the most important thing, Maloney said, is that the government offers veterans as many avenues as possible for turning their military training into civilian employment.
“For what these people do for us, protecting our freedom and democracy around the world, giving them another option when they leave is just the right thing to do,” he said.