NEW YORK — Coming home from war can produce feelings of excitement: reconnecting with family, going out on weekends with friends and settling into a “normal” 9 to 5 job. All of these desires can seem achievable, that is until countless job applications go unanswered.
According to Bureau of Labor statistics from 2014, 36 percent of Gulf War-era II veterans (September 2001-present) serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, or both, had an unemployment rate of 8.4 percent.
To alleviate this growing obstacle, the Copper Development Association (CDA) collaborated with the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States, Canada (UA) to develop a 40-hour copper installation training curriculum as part of the eighteen week UA Veterans in Piping (VIP) – Sprinkler initiative. The copper portion of the program encompasses all aspects of copper joining that piping installers might be asked to use for automatic fire sprinkler systems. The newly written, accredited and approved sprinklerfitting program was presented this year to the first group of veterans at the Industrial Training Center (ITC) facilities at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.
“Our program provides veterans with the skills needed to secure and hold down a job,” said Robert Carr VIP Sprinkler Fitter instructor. “In fact, as part of our program, graduates are guaranteed a paid union apprenticeship at one of the UA Locals of their choice.”
The program not only helps veterans, it also fills a huge void in the skilled labor job market. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupational outlook for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters is growing faster than average. The demand stems from new building construction projects and stricter water-efficiency standards for plumbing systems, as well as from the gap created by retiring craftsmen.
“The copper piping intensive training courses of the VIP produces graduates who are prepared for every tough copper piping field application,” said Dale Powell, Project Manager & Piping Applications Specialist for CDA. "We are proud and honored to be a part of this training program for veterans who are looking to re-enter the workforce across America.”
To learn more about working with copper, visit www.copper.org/applications/plumbing/ or the Plumbing section on our blog, thinkcopper.org.