Vets Offered Free Training in Trades

TUESDAY, MAY 6, 2014

A global trade union has become the latest player to recruit military veterans for the dwindling ranks of the U.S. construction workforce, especially in the area of military maintenance.

The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades' (IUPAT) new Painters and Allied Trades Veterans Program (PAT-VP) will initially offer free training in commercial and industrial coatings and other skill areas to veterans and transitioning service members.

The training is "perfectly suited to military personnel" and includes job-placement assistance and college credits, program officials said. For the U.S. military, the program offers a pipeline of trained workers for its multibillion-dollar war on corrosion. The training will be conducted near U.S. military bases.

In the future, the program will expand to drywall finishing, floor installation, and other skills.

The program's first graduating class of five recently completed a three-week program in the IUPAT Industrial Coatings Applicator Training for Military Installations.

Veterans and Construction

The IUPAT program is the latest initiative that aims to fill the yawning need for skilled construction labor in the United States with the ranks of former service members. In February, a coalition of construction employers and associations working with the White House pledged 100,000 "good-paying jobs" for U.S. veterans in the next five years.

In addition, the long-running Helmets to Hardhats national, nonprofit program connects National Guard, Reserve, retired and transitioning active-duty military service members with skilled training and career opportunities in the construction industry.


Career pathways in the IUPAT program include glazing/glass and architectural metal, drywall finishing, and commercial painting. Trainees will also receive support transitioning to civilian employment.

PAT-VP will focus on protection of military assets. Corrosion of military assets accounts for a significant share of the $1 trillion cost of corrosion to the U.S. economy each year, IUPAT notes.

The huge task of preventing and repairing that damage has created a demand for trained workers with specialized skills, says the union, which represents North American workers in the the finishing trades: commercial and industrial coatings, glazing and glasswork, drywall finishing, floor covering installation, and sign and display.

Coatings Training

PAT-VP is initially concentrating on training in industrial coatings—a fast-growing career path due to planned and current investment in U.S. infrastructure and the construction and maintenance of energy facilities, according to IUPAT.

The Finishing Contractors Association (FCA), which represents union employers, is also participating in the program, which is free to transitioning service members and veterans.

"We created the Painters and Allied Trades Veterans Program to not only build our own ranks with the best and brightest the country has to offer, but to also do our part to thank the brave men and women of our military for their service," said Kenneth Rigmaiden, IUPAT General President.

The new graduates of IUPAT's Industrial Coatings Applicator Training for Military Installations are former Specialists Dustin LaValley, Andrew Saldana and Deven Wolfe; and former Sgts. Nicholas Meade and Wesley Stewart.


The Painters and Allied Trades Veterans Program (PAT-VP) is focusing on training for transitioning former service members.

The men, all from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Ft. Lewis, WA, have now been placed in jobs in the U.S., IUPAT said.


"We at the FCA are proud to partner with the IUPAT in this great program," said FCA chairman Mike Cassidy.

"I know first-hand how valuable veterans are to have on a job site in terms of discipline, learning new skills and a daily commitment to getting the job done the right way."

IUPAT says its intensive training program lets transition and former service members "earn while you learn" and qualifies graduates for a wide range of jobs that cannot be outsourced overseas. The career pathways include:

  • Industrial and commercial coating and painting for corrosion control and protection;
  • Glazing/glass and architectural metal;
  • Drywall finishing; and
  • Floor covering installation.

The program also supports graduates in transitioning from military to civilian employment.


The first graduates of the PAT-VP program are (front row, from left): former Sgts. Wesley Stewart and Nicholas Meade; and former Specialists Andrew Saldana, Dustin LaValley, and Deven Wolfe. Back row, from left: Col. H. Charles Hodges Jr.; IUPAT General President Kenneth Rigmaiden; LMCI Administrator Greg Renne; IUPAT District Council 5 officer Denis Sullivan; and Finishing Trades Institute Director Dan Penski.

"This program will put IUPAT signatory companies and the IUPAT workforce at the top of the list to receive great American veterans seeking another place to make a positive difference. What an outstanding win-win way to enhance our collective workforce," said Cassidy.

Earn While You Learn

The pilot program starts with intensive training designed for service members. Trainees will complete an apprenticeship that includes paid work alongside an experienced journey worker.

Field lessons are delivered by a Learning Management System that translates to college credits from Mountwest Community & Technical College in Huntington, WV.

Graduates leave the classroom with six Certificates of Completion in the following career subjects:

  • Maritime Industry and Safety (OSHA compliant);
  • First Aid/CPR;
  • Scaffold Awareness;
  • Basic Rigging;
  • Confined Space (OSHA compliant); and
  • Coating Application Specialist Level I (after passing CAS I exam).

To learn more about the program, e-mail or call 1-855-380-VETS (8387).


Tagged categories: Coatings education; Commercial contractors; Drywall; Education; Finishing Contractors Association (FCA); Good Technical Practice; International Union of Painters and Allied Trades; LMCI - Painters & Allied Trades; Military; Worker training

Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.