Finding qualified workers for the U.S. labor market is one of the largest industry issues that exists today.

A qualified candidate requires not only the proper skills but also the professional ethic, maturity and discipline to get the work done. Military veterans already possess these ideal qualities and their skills acquired during their time of service can be easily applied to the work site. As a result, the SMART Heroes program was innovated to capitalize upon these professional qualities by helping U.S. military men and women transition into the civilian workforce. Launched in August 2017, the SMART Heroes program provides free sheet metal industry training to enlisted U.S. Military men and women who plan to enter civilian life within the year, thereby assisting with their successful transition to the civilian workforce!

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Nearly 250,000 service members transition out of the armed services every year.

With a demonstrated interest in the building and construction trades, many of these service members register with the Helmets to Hardhats program which provides them with information about the construction trades industry, including the sheet metal industry. The SMART Heroes program was established through a partnership between the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART), Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA), Helmets to Hardhats, the International Training Institute (ITI), SMART Local 66, SMACNA Western Washington, and Western Washington Sheet Metal JATC. This specialized program provides seven weeks of sheet metal industry training (equivalent to the first year of apprenticeship training) to enlisted men and women prior to their discharge from the military. Upon completion, the graduates have the opportunity for employment at any of 148 apprentice programs in the U.S. and are provided advanced placement as a second-year apprentice.

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