Veterans can help keep us safe as civilians, too


By now, most in the building industry know there is a shortage of qualified candidates due to a booming construction sector and retirements. This shortage presents an incredible career opportunity for dedicated, hardworking

individuals looking for jobs. 

The International Code Council (ICC) already has its successful and still-growing High School Technical Training Program (HSTTP), designed to get high school and community college students interested in the various fields of

building safety. 

But what if there were a group of people who already possess some of the "soft" skills — personality, discipline and drive — who not only could help fill this void, but also are looking for career changes? 

Sara Yerkes and Ron Piester of the Code Council are leading a new initiative, the ICC Military Families Building Career Path Program, to help veterans who are transitioning to civilian life and their family members learn more about

building safety career options. 

"We need new blood," Yerkes said. "And they need jobs. We know people in the military have the characteristics we're looking for: discipline, integrity, character, teamwork, technical knowledge, strong work ethic and the ability to

follow procedures." 

So what's the best way to let veterans know of all these options as well as provide them the path to finding careers in building safety? 

Yerkes led a discussion session at this year's ICC Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio, with a group of more than 40 people, including those already in the business — some of whom are veterans or spouses of active military

personnel — as well as representatives of the military. 

Out of that group came an advisory group that meets several times a year to discuss how to shape the program. In the works already is a webpage explaining options available to returning veterans and their families as well as a

toolkit to help them each step of the way. 

One veteran who attended the roundtable in Columbus already has taken the project to the next level. Liz Rider, an Air Force veteran and building official for CSG Consultants Inc., said, "Veterans are perfect for the building safety


"During my career, I find that the best type of employee to hire is a veteran," she said. "Our veterans have integrity and are able to follow directions, and end up becoming exemplary building inspectors. 

Veterans are coming from jobs which they have to follow manuals, checklists and procedures, and that is the same thing we are asking them to do with the building code and inspections." 


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