Useful benefit for military veterans debuts in Louisiana
The construction industry is booming. Demand for construction trades workers is outpacing available candidates. Nearly all construction companies in the U.S. are hiring — roughly 93 percent of construction firms plan to hire new tradespeople, according to the Associated General Contractors of America — and many are offering increased compensation in order to draw craft personnel and tradespeople. Many construction industry companies are turning to U.S. military veterans to close the skilled labor gap and demand for military talent is at an all-time high.
The Louisiana State Uniform Construction Code Council (LSUCCC) voted in May to provide military veterans with a provisional two-year time period to become International Code Council certified (the new rule became effective on June 19). This will allow newly employed veterans the opportunity to work as jurisdictional inspectors without state required Code Council certification(s) for a period of 24 months. Certifications are required statewide and the only requirement will be that those working under the new provision must be supervised by a state registered and certified coworker. While the motion still needs to clear the Administrative Rule process, the extended inspector apprenticeship period for veterans allows them to work and learn while they earn their certifications and is an exciting move forward for both veterans in the state and the construction industry there.
David “Mike” Metcalf, CBO, CFM, chief building official with the Plaquemines Parish Government, led the effort for the registration assistance for veterans. A former LSUCCC chairman, he appeared before the LSUCCC Regular Meeting held on May 14, 2019, in Baton Rouge to persuade the creation of the two-year provisional registration period for military veterans.
“Like many areas of the country, Louisiana is currently experiencing a shortage of qualified local jurisdictional inspectors,” said Metcalf. “As a member of the Code Council’s Building Membership Council, this is a problem that we have devoted considerable time to in an effort to find possible solutions. It occurred to me that one way to address this problem would be to make a code inspection career more attractive to our veterans. My goal was to create more job opportunities for our military veterans while at the same time addressing the inspector shortage in our state.”
Metcalf is a past president and past executive director of the Building Officials Association of Louisiana, a member of the International Code Council Gulf Coast Region IX board (encompassing Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi), a member of the Louisiana Floodplain Management Association, and currently serves on the Code Council’s Building Membership Council Governing Committee. Metcalf also contributed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Mitigation Assessment Team study of the areas affected by Hurricane Isaac in 2012.
“I see this as a win-win scenario,” Metcalf continued. “To not only offer a useful benefit for military veterans but to also attract badly needed new hires to our profession.”
Military veterans are proven to perform four percent better than the average employee and turnover among veterans is three percent lower. Additionally, the construction industry is very appealing to military veterans who are looking for a job where their soft skills — discipline, integrity, character, teamwork, technical knowledge, a strong work ethic and the ability to follow procedures — are recognized and can be transitioned into a new successful career.
Many veterans have chosen a career path in construction — a survey of Code Council members revealed that 50 percent of respondents had previously served in the military. We are grateful for the sacrifices the service members and their families have made to keep us safe and are committed to ensuring their success after service. To that end, the International Code Council’s Military Families Career Path Program helps veterans who are transitioning to civilian life and their family members learn more about building safety career options.