Help is on the way for 180 military veterans and reservists looking to re-enter civilian life and gain employment through more than half a million dollars in new funding announced by the Ontario government on Monday.
The program, dubbed the “Pathways to Post-Military Employment,” will be delivered by the non-profit organization Helmets to Hardhats Canada and will allow veterans to use the skills learned from their time in the military to land a job in the construction sector.
“The program evaluates the skills our veterans already have, provides them with on-job training, provides them access to the job bank and matches veterans with good paying jobs,” Premier Doug Ford said at a news conference.
According to the government, more than 5,000 soldiers leave the service every year, with many facing challenges with transitions to post-service civilian careers.
And with some 640,000 veterans in Canada -- 232,200 of which are in Ontario -- Ford says those who have served this country “deserve an opportunity to start their new lives in the right way.”
Opportunities in skilled trades, management, administration, planning, scheduling, logistics, security, engineering, and accounting are just some of the fields veterans and reservists will have access to.
The government says that since launching in 2012 the Helmets to Hardhats organization has successfully placed more than 1,000 veterans in highly-skilled, well-paying construction jobs, 40 per cent of which were in Ontario.
"Veterans returning to civilian life have skills that local employers need. This project will help them build upon the many existing talents they gained through time in the armed forces to unlock good jobs in the skilled trades,” Joseph Maloney, executive director of Helmets to Hardhats, said.
The funding is part of Ontario's Skilled Trades Strategy, as outlined in the province’s 2020 budget released last week, and earmarks $180.5 million in employment services and training programs to connect workers in the industries most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with industries facing a skills shortage.
Aimed at “breaking the stigma” surrounding skilled trades, the framework also hopes to simplify the apprenticeship system in the province.
Monday’s investment will also see financial support for homeless veterans and those who need mental health services and crisis intervention.