INA – August 20, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today visited Rend Lake College (RLC) to highlight the importance of job training and opportunities for Veterans through the Helmets to Hardhats program. Twelve Illinois Veterans began training through the program at RLC last month to gain the skills necessary to pursue careers in the construction industry.
“It is our responsibility to make sure that the servicemen and servicewomen who have answered the call to duty have the opportunity to come home to a good job,” Governor Quinn said. “Thanks to the Helmets to Hardhats program and training at schools like Rend Lake College, our Veterans are getting the training they need to transition into good-paying jobs.”
Helmets to Hardhats is a national initiative which connects National Guard, Reserve and transitioning active-duty military service members with high-quality construction industry training and employment opportunities. The program, administered by the Center for Military Recruitment, Assessment and Veterans Employment, seeks to ease the challenging transition to civilian life for servicemembers and their families.
“Rend Lake College is very proud to be a Helmets to Hardhats site, and we look forward to continuing our work with the Plumbers and Pipefitters local and Governor Quinn’s office,” said RLC President Charley Holstein. “It’s a great program. It allows these soldiers who have gone and served their country to come back and have an opportunity to get some accelerated training to get out in the workforce.”
The Pipefitters Local 551 of West Frankfort and the Pipefitters Local 651 of Centralia are involved in RLC’s program and are training 12 Veterans. The 16 weeks of training conclude with each Veteran’s assignment to an area union as a second-year apprentice.
“We were able to put this program together after reaching out to Governor Quinn,” said Thomas Caliper, business manager for UA Local 551 in West Frankfort. “We knew we could count on Governor Quinn’s support because Veterans are so important to this governor.”
Launched in 2003, Helmets to Hardhats is co-sponsored by all 15 building and construction trades organizations and their employer associations, together representing around 82,000 contractors. There are currently 157,755 Helmets to Hardhats candidates registered, all of whom have access to program’s Web site. The site currently lists over 80,000 careers for member access.
The Illinois Helmets to Hardhats program is generally recognized as the model for the national Helmets to Hardhats campaign. Much of this success can be attributed to a strong effort from teamster local unions, state agencies and local Veteran support groups.