WASHINGTON — In an announcement Feb. 10, 2014, at “A National Symposium: Veterans’ Employment in Construction,” hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor and Joining Forces, First Lady Michelle Obama and U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez celebrated a broad coalition of construction employers and associations that have collectively pledged to hire 100,000 veterans over the next five years.

Also at the announcement were representatives of the construction companies making these hiring commitments, veterans who have completed apprenticeships in the construction industry, and other leaders in the field.

In an op-ed running in the day’s Wall Street Journal, the First Lady wrote:

“Today, more than 100 American construction companies came together to announce that they plan to hire more than 100,000 veterans within the next five years. They 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.”

“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,” said Secretary Perez. “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.”

Associated Builders & Contractors joined construction industry leaders from more than 100 companies in support of their pledge to employ 100,000 veterans in the next five years — a commitment that was made during the U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment in Construction National Symposium.

“ABC believes in supporting our troops by providing them with the employment opportunities available in the construction industry,” said ABC 2014 National Chairman and President and CEO of Compass Partners LLC Dan Brodbeck. “With a projected nationwide shortage of nearly two million workers, ABC is committed to filling this skills gap, starting with our veterans.”

The construction industry is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years — outpacing the steady growth of the economy as a whole and helping to strengthen local communities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that construction is one of the fastest-growing industries in the nation, with job growth of more than 1.5 million jobs between now and 2022 — an annual growth rate of 2.6%.

Construction companies large and small — from national firms like Jacobs and Bechtel, to regional firms like Cianbro Construction, to local contractors and subcontractors across America — are stepping up to ensure their industry welcomes home the nation’s heroes with good-paying jobs. More than 80 additional companies are committing their existing training and employment programs to fill new construction jobs with veterans.

Executives of several participating companies represented the construction industry at the announcement, with Larry L. Melton, project executive for Bechtel and a Marine Corps veteran delivering remarks. 

“Veterans are invaluable to the construction industry,” Melton said. “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. Bechtel is passionate about supporting veterans and we continue to expand our efforts to hire transitioning military members.”

Lori Sundberg, senior vice president of human resources at Jacobs also stated, “We are pleased to support programs that provide career opportunities for our military veterans. Many of the skills and abilities gained during military training and service are highly transferable to the skills we require to successfully serve our clients around the world. We are proud of the veterans working at Jacobs and appreciate their military service, their dedication, and the value they add to our company.”

Following the announcement, the department’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service and Employment and Training Administration hosted the Symposium’s three roundtable discussions, which included information sessions on how to access veterans’ employment services, which are available at more than 2,600 American Jobs Centers across the country; details regarding registered apprenticeship programs; and an overview of credentialing and certifications for veterans in interested in careers in the construction industry.