A program aimed at helping current or former members of the Armed Forces or Reserves find work in the building trades is now available in New Brunswick.
The provincial government is investing $50,000 in Helmets to Hardhats Canada — a national not-for-profit organization that provides apprenticeship training and job opportunities for military members seeking a civilian career.
New Brunswick is the first province in Atlantic Canada to join the program, which was launched last year.
Premier David Alward says the program will help the province meet the increasing demand for skilled trade workers for projects such as the west-east pipeline and shale gas development.
“A strong and vibrant labour market is vital to economic growth and job creation,” he said in a statement.
Louie Clark, a former soldier who is now a job superintendent for Springhill Construction, says making the transition from military life to civilian life was not easy.
"When we got out, we just got out … Off you went and found your own work," he said. "If you got somebody helping you, it's a lot easier."
Brian Macdonald, the legislative secretary to the premier for intergovernmental affairs and military affairs, who is also a veteran, agrees.
"Having a good transition is very important to the health of veterans — their mental health, their financial health, their families' health, so anything we can do as a government to ease that transition I think it’s a good thing."
Andrew Dawson, of the Atlantic Canada Regional Council of Carpenters, Mllwrights and Allied Workers, says the program helps match skills and training with jobs.
"I mean, it's not really reinventing the wheel. All it is using existing infrastructure through the union hiring hall and military counselling that is already available and connect the two," he said.
The program also benefits companies in the trades industry by providing a supply of workers who have proven their abilities while in uniform, Dawson said.
Ontario and Alberta have also joined Helmets to Hardhats, which Veterans Affairs Canada helped to create.
About 1,400 veterans have registered for the program to date.