Whelan-Gordon Bill To Establish Helmets To Hardhats Pilot Program In NJ Turnpike Authority Approved By Senate

A view of the Senate Chambers from the 2010-2011 Senate Reorganization.

Bill Would Help Military Veterans Find Employment in Construction Industry

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Jim Whelan and Bob Gordon which would direct the New Jersey Turnpike Authority to establish the Helmets to Hardhats pilot program to help former military personnel find employment in the construction industry was approved today by the full Senate.

“With the end of the War in Iraq and the winding down of the War in Afghanistan, many New Jersey men and women who have fought courageously in the United States armed forces are returning home and are beginning to transition from active duty to civilian life,” said Senator Whelan, D-Atlantic. “By implementing programs that have been proven successes across the country – such as Helmets to Hardhats – we can help connect veterans with good, well-paying jobs within the construction industry. With this legislation, the Turnpike Authority can expand this program in New Jersey even further. These men and women served bravely to protect our country, and it is our responsibility to continue to support them in their efforts to find employment as they return home.”

The bill, S-1415, would create an 18-month pilot program, during which the Turnpike Authority would have to award, at a minimum, 20 percent of the projected labor hours per highway construction project engaged in by the Authority to contractors registered with the national Helmets to Hardhats Program. The bill would also require the Authority to evaluate the pilot program to determine what impact, if any, it had in connecting former military personnel with jobs in the construction industry and on the cost of highway projects constructed by the Authority, and to report its findings to the Governor and the Legislature within two years of the bill’s effective date.

“The men and women of our armed forces are commendable examples of a highly trained and disciplined workforce – qualities that are important in every field of work, especially the highly-demanding field of construction,” said Senator Gordon, D-Bergen and Passaic. “By providing great training and apprentice opportunities as well as job placement, Helmets to Hardhats has become a program vital for many of our returning vets as they transition back into civilian life. By reserving a portion of road construction projects for the next 18 months for Helmets to Hardhats participating contractors, we can invest in the future of our veterans while we invest in the improvement of our State’s infrastructure.”

The Helmets to Hardhats Program is a national program established in 2003 that connects National Guard, Reserve and transitioning active-duty military members with quality career training and employment opportunities within the construction industry. The program is administered by the non-profit Center for Military Recruitment, Assessment and Veterans Employment (CMRAVE). To participate in the program, employers must register with and be approved by CMRAVE, participate in proven apprenticeship training programs, and seek to ensure that transitioning veterans are provided with wages and benefits that allow them to maintain an appropriate standard of living in the community where the position is located.

The bill was approved with a vote of 39-0. It now heads to the Assembly for further consideration.

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