Businesses, unions partner to train vets

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Army VeteranA national program that unites contractors and labor unions to train and employ returning Colorado veterans in the construction industry will mark its Colorado graduation Wednesday with a ceremony in Colorado Springs featuring Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The accelerated 18-week Veterans In Piping (VIP) program trained 15 veterans – at no cost – in welding, pipefitting and plumbing. A partnership between the Mechanical Contractors Association of Colorado and the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union No. 58, VIP places veterans who successfully complete the program a second or third-year apprentice, depending on their military experience.

They also can earn industry-recognized certificates as a part of their education. This should make the veterans attractive to contractors looking for skilled plumbers and welders on their construction sites. The program also helps reduce the high unemployment rate among veterans. The graduation will be held Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. at the Plumbers and Pipefitters Training Center, 2864 Janitell Road, Colorado Springs.

Fifteen Army combat veterans are graduating.

We’re proud to work with our partners in the labor movement to provide a pathway for veterans to a family-sustaining career in the construction industry,” said Dave Davia, executive vice president and CEO of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Colorado. “This unique program promises to be a great source of workers for Colorado contractors and a small way for us to say thanks to these veterans for their sacrifices for our country.”

“The VIP program is a win for everyone involved,” said Ron Lenz, Business Manager for Local Union No. 58. “Our industry gets new, well-trained workers, and veterans get access to lifelong career opportunities that they can employ in an industry that’s growing and in need of smart, reliable men and women.” Davia said veterans are hard-working and eager employees and contractors are eager to hire veterans.

He further said the VIP program will give veterans a leg up by giving them the necessary skills to succeed in exacting skilled construction jobs from day one. The Colorado Springs VIP program is the third location in the nation, following successful programs at Camp Pendleton in California and Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State.