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Bridgeville company to help in jobs program for veterans

| Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Area veterans may soon sign up for a new career-training program because of a partnership between a Bridgeville company and a national organization.

An Aug. 28 meeting will introduce the Troops to Trades Initiative, a national effort of the foundation to connect veterans with jobs in plumbing, heating-cooling and the electrical industries. It's the result of a partnership between Nexstar Legacy Foundation, an organization based in Minnesota and dedicated to educate and to recruit technicians to the trades, and Gillece Services.

Gillece Services headquarters at 3000 Washington Pike, Bridgeville, will be a regional training center for Trades for Troops.

“About 250,000 veterans are leaving the military each year,” said Tom Gillece Sr., president of Gillece Services. “If they're going to the trades, we want to make it easy for them.”

Gillece will share his training-program model with business and community leaders. Congressman Tim Murphy and Jim Roddey, Allegheny County's first chief executive, and Veterans Administration officials have been invited to the meeting.

“There are less and less people getting into the trades,” said Gillece. “It's been neglected over the years.”

As the trade population ages and retires, job growth in these industries is expected at only 20 percent over the next 10 years, according to the Department of Labor.

Gillece saw a need for a trade-education facility when he purchased his headquarters building in Bridgeville in 2009.

Last year, he developed a veterans program that was approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education Veterans/Military Education Division.

They can get into the program right away, he said. All a candidate needs is to pass a criminal background check, a drug test and have a license, good driving record, a passion for learning and loving what they do.

“We'll walk them through and line them up with the proper people,” Gillece said.

The company offers training, a paid apprenticeship and a job offer.

Grants are available through Troops to Trades. Since 2006, the foundation has awarded $225,000 to 99 people, said Renee Cardarelle, executive director of the National Troops to Trades Program. GI Bill benefits also would support the cost of education.

The foundation's efforts are supported by the more than 500 top independent home services contractors that belong to Nexstar Network.

Gillece could take 33 veterans today, he said, for weekday classes. This would be a start to satisfying a major need for technicians.

“There are no robots yet to do our work,” Gillece said, “but CMU may be working on it.”

For more information, visit www.Gilleceservices.com or www.troopstotrades.org.

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or ddreeland@tribweb.com.

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