Whelan-Gordon Bill To Establish Helmets To Hardhats Pilot Program In NJ Turnpike Authority Receives Final Approval

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 General Assembly, concurring with the Governor’s recommendations.

“The men and women of our armed forces have fought courageously to protect our freedom overseas,” said Senator Whelan, D-Atlantic. “As the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are winding down, these service men and women will be returning home and looking for work. Helmets to Hardhats is a great way to welcome them back to New Jersey and to thank them for their service in a meaningful way with a job opportunity and a career.”

The bill, S-1415, would create an 18-month pilot program, during which the Turnpike Authority would have to award, at a minimum, 5 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 Governor recommended that the New Jersey Turnpike Authority develop goals and benchmarks to increase employment opportunities for all contractors working with the Authority and that the Authority establish attainable targets for veteran Helmets to Hardhats participant labor hours for each highway project constructed by the Authority during the pilot program. The bill passed today incorporated those recommendations.

“Our returning service members have the skills, work ethic and training that we look for in all of our workers,” said Senator Gordon, D-Bergen and Passaic. “The Helmets to Hardhats Program has a proven record of aiding our veterans and military members from active duty into a civilian life. I look forward to its implementation here in New Jersey.”

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 unanimously approved by the Senate on Monday. It now heads to the Governor’s desk.

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