The biggest challenge of the construction industry is finding qualified personnel.

Every construction and related business have unfilled jobs begging for applicants. It’s not just technical skills that are required but dedication, maturity and focus that are elusive.

This last Veterans Day reminded us all of those who fought for our country bravely and steadfastly.

There are approximately 11,000 veterans living in Napa. That’s 16 percent or one in eight who served our nation. Transitioning more of them into construction and professional services could help fill our urgently empty positions.

Bernie Narvaez, an Iraqi war veteran noted, “Veterans are ready to serve our community. They have valuable skills transferable to commercial and residential construction. The calling to serve does not end when discharged.”

How does a veteran or soon-to-be discharged vet prepare for the transition?

Look at your skills

You’ve learned a lot. What about math or chemistry? Certainly, you learned computers and CAD in the military so architects and engineers would be very interested in you for intern positions. Check out military.com.

Create a professional resume

I receive many resumes poorly written by college grads.

Include your present skills, backgrounds, emphasizing your knowledge of the industry and willingness to learn. Personal interests and skills help a potential employer feel more comfortable with you.

Going back to school

School isn’t for everyone, but a college or trade school can give you valuable assets. If you don’t have a degree, your G.I. Bill and the State have benefits for you.

There are many schools available to you while in or leaving the service. Visit cslb.ca.gov/Contractors/Applicants/Military

Consider part-time work

Many employers would be happy to have even part time or “gig” workers. While financially difficult for you while attending school, it could provide resume quality experience.

For employers looking to hire, stretch your horizon a little. Former service members are great candidates for the construction industry using their military knowledge.

Many of these vets served as engineers, draftspersons, electricians and heavy equipment operators.

Employers have options:

Military hiring firms

Many such as Orion Talent have placed over 47,000 vets. Spell out your job requirements and follow their props.

Military job fairs

I am told that construction companies rarely attend these. They are missing a good thing. Visit helmetstohardhats.org/explore-trades

Check veteran’s employment and training service

Visit dol.gov/agencies/vets/hire, which connects employers with veterans depending on their skills and tool kit. Apprenticeships are available. Some may be subsidized by the government.

Consider military spouses

More and more spouses are entering the construction industry today.

When one commits to serve, the whole family unit is committed, during and after discharge.

Give them all a chance.

Post a position opening on veteran job board

There are many online and easily accessible posting pages such as Recruit Military.com. These websites will have a wide array of jobs including everything from accountants to plumbers.

We hired a veteran’s spouse and we couldn’t be happier.

As Rachel Burris, a veterans recruiter and communication manager noted, “They defended America, now let’s help them build it!”

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Chris D. Craiker, AIA/NCARB, is a Napa architect with Craiker Architects & Planners. He has been designing sustainable buildings for more than 40 years.