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Hiring Veterans a Win-Win in Construction, Manufacturing and Energy Sectors

Hiring Veterans a Win-Win in Construction, Manufacturing and Energy Sectors

Service men and women separating from the military who are entering the civilian job market can be very beneficial to companies, especially those in the construction, manufacturing, and energy sectors.

“Veterans come equipped with a wide range of skills that allow them to plug right in to certain industry sectors,” explains Ben Armstrong, regional manager of NextOp Louisiana, a nonprofit veteran recruitment service that works with post 9/11, E3 to E7 veterans who recently separated from service. “As of October 2018, we have placed 85 veterans in rewarding, well-paying careers across the state and all of the employers are extremely pleased with their hires.”

Chris Newton, manager of workforce development at Cajun Industries is a firm believer in hiring veterans. “There are numerous benefits to hiring former military members,” he says. “They want to be part of a team.  They like working in smaller groups and they usually challenge themselves to do more. Then you have the whole dependability factor and for us in the construction industry, being drug free is something that is a big plus.”

Through his work at Cajun, Newton partnered with NCCER creating a crosswalk to construction-related skills that help transition veterans into the field. He also worked directly with the Seabees to get veterans NCCER credentials. Cajun often recruits on some of the Louisiana bases and attends career fairs to talk directly to some of the service members who are leaving the military. “Most of these guys are great for positions like heavy equipment operator, electrician, pipefitter, welder, carpenter. They are easily trainable and one of the unspoken things they bring is leadership. In addition, most of them have probably had to be responsible for managing people, money and materials, which is also a big plus.”

Jacob Guzmán is a working example of how successful an ex-serviceman can be. The former army medic is now not only the senior HR specialist at KBR, but also works as an instructor for the veteran pipefitting program at Central Louisiana Technical Community College. He trains active duty soldiers who are leaving the military and prepares them with a NCCER curriculum for a civilian pipefitting job. Upon leaving the military, Guzmán has worked his way up from a scaffold builder helper, to pipefitter helper, became a pipe journeyman and then pipe general foreman with KBR and Performance. Along the way, he’s worked for such industry giants as Bechtel, Starcon, Turner, and Fluor.

“I have a unique perspective in that I am a former military guy who works in the industry and now trains servicemen to provide them the skills they need to get a job in the civilian world,” says Guzmán. “I know firsthand the benefit a veteran can bring to a company and at KBR, we hire as many as we can. Most of them are infantry, they’re good with their hands, are disciplined and have good attitudes. Each graduating class, I tell them, ‘You’ve served your country, bled for your country and now with the skills you have you can go out and build your country. Go build your future, your family, and your legacy.”

Find qualified veteran candidates today. Post your positions on Louisiana Job Connection.