Qualified Workforce? Hire a Veteran

We’ve been spreading this message for years now and will continue to do so until every employer everywhere knows it to be true. No matter how often we repeat the phrase, some still hesitate to extend their recruitment efforts to this vast pool of talent. Why? Hard to say. The good news is that the U.S. Department of Labor has seen the need to link employers to vets in a way that maximizes the returns that both sides receive. What is making it successful? Participation by major companies, corporations and labor organizations. To us, these are matches made in heaven.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) is developing unique programs to link transitioning military personnel with job vacancies in fields that need highly skilled and credentialed workers. By partnering with the private sector employers and unions, and by taking advantage of previously established federal/state linkages, these public-private programs create win-win situations. Veterans benefit by acquiring the skills and credentials necessary for obtaining jobs that will provide them and their families with economic security. Employers gain the opportunity to draw upon a pool of dedicated, hardworking, skilled individuals.

What follows is a description of some of the programs that have been established. Employers or others interested in learning more about these programs or in initiating similar programs should contact the State Director of Veterans’ Employment and Training in their State.

CWA’s Military-to-Work Program – Through a grant from VETS, the Communications Workers of America (CWA), one of the nation’s largest labor unions, has created the Military-to-Work pilot program. The program, begun in early 1998, is designed to move transitioning military personnel interested in networking careers into jobs in this field. The program offers on-line assessment services, training, and placement services. In recent months, Cisco Systems, a worldwide leader in networking for the Internet has joined CWA in this initiative.

Microsoft Skills IT Career Initiative and Veterans Program – VETS has also created a public-private partnership with the software giant, Microsoft Corporation. Positioned at the forefront of the information revolution, Microsoft executives realized the need to play a significant role in developing talent for future employment in this field. To help foster information industry knowledge and skills, they created the Microsoft IT Career Initiative program that brings together certified trainers and financial assistance organizations. The program is designed to make it easier for individuals to train in and become certified in Microsoft product groups. Recognizing that former military personnel are highly disciplined and dedicated individuals who can be a valuable asset to the high-tech industry, Microsoft has worked with VETS to expand this program to specifically target transitioning military personnel and veterans interested in the information technology field.

PowerComm - VETS is also working to help separating military personnel who have served in combat arms. VETS recently awarded the PowerComm Foundation in Boston a grant for newly separated veterans, older veterans and a few homeless veterans to receive training at an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) training center. Program participants will graduate with nationally recognized IBEW certification in fields such as electrician, telecommunications installer and journeyman lineman.

Airborne Express – Through a VETS state pilot program aimed at improving the ability of transitioning military personnel to become credentialed, Airborne Express has offered to sponsor aircraft maintenance training for individuals leaving the military. While many transitioning veterans in the aircraft maintenance field do not meet all of the requirements for a FAA license, most can meet the requirements with some minimal additional training.

Airborne Express, which is experiencing a shortage of FAA licensed airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanics in Ohio, contacted the VETS state pilot coordinator to consider how the company might tap into transitioning military personnel to fill job vacancies. As a result of this, an FAA-approved aircraft mechanics school has offered a 300 hour refresher course for veterans with a background in A&P. The course fee of $1,700 is much less than the 18-month full course, which costs $8,500. As the veterans take the refresher course, Airborne Express will employ them as laborers, and offer tuition assistance. Upon passing the FAA exam, Airborne Express will promote the veterans to A&P mechanics.

Capitalizing on Federal/State Partnerships: VETS ProVet Pilot Program – Another VETS program that is built on a strong partnership, is the Promoting Re-employment Opportunities for Veterans (ProVet) program. ProVet is an employer-focused enhancement of the Transition Assistance Program, a program administered jointly by the US Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Labor to ease the transition from military to civilian life. ProVet has been specifically designed to address the challenges of today’s labor market by placing separating service members into available jobs in targeted industries with a recognized labor shortage.

Veterans’ Skills and Attributes
Today’s veterans are extremely well trained, highly motivated, and well educated — probably more so than most civilian, private sector employers realize.

Transferable Skills
Veterans have sophisticated and up-to-date work experience in occupational specialties which are directly transferable to the civilian economy. Some examples are:

• Accounting
• Computers
• Construction
• Education
• Electronics
• Engineering
• Financial administration
• Foreign languages
• Law enforcement

Most Popular Career Fields Sought by Transitioning Military Personnel
The top career fields sought by enlisted transitioning servicemembers were:

1. Police Patrol Officers
2. Correction Officers and Jailers
3. Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs
4. Personnel, Training, and Labor Relations Managers
5. Administrative Services Managers
6. Electronics Repairers, Commercial and Industrial Equipment
7. Computer Support Specialists
8. All Other Communications Equipment Mechanics, Installers, and Repairers
9. All Other Electrical and Electronic Equipment Mechanics, Installers, and Repairers
10. United States Marshals
11. Stock Clerks – Stockroom, Warehouse or Storage Yard
12. Other Protective Service Workers
13. Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technicians and Technologists
14. Communications, Transportation, and Utilities Operations Managers
15. Aircraft Mechanics
16. Guards and Watch Guards
17. Shipping, Receiving, and Traffic Clerks
18. Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists
19. First-Line Supervisors and Managers/Supervisors – Clerical and Administrative Support Workers
20. Fish and Game Wardens

Well Educated
The military has traditionally encouraged its servicemembers to take advantage of continuing education programs. Indeed, over 95% of our military officers possess baccalaureate degrees, and thirty-five percent have earned a masters degree or higher. A significant number of noncommissioned officers (NCOs) have earned their associates’ or bachelor’s degrees.
Indeed, today’s new veterans will have spent 1/4 of their military careers as students or instructors in their various specialties.

Healthy and Drug Free
Strong programs to maintain the health of servicemembers are another regular feature of military service. Potential employers will generally find emerging veterans to be in excellent health. Thank to a rigorous prevention and detection program, drug abuse by servicemembers is almost nonexistent.

Conscientious and Hard Working
Potential employers will also benefit from the outstanding work ethic that military service instills. Servicemembers are taught early on to pay meticulous attention to detail. Follow up, persistence, and pride in doing one’s very best, are all hallmarks found in the military. These emerging new veterans know how to set priorities, how to work under pressure, how to function as part of a team, and how to exercise initiative.

As future civilian employees, transitioning military personnel have the education, training, experiences, and personal characteristics that can easily make them invaluable to employers in today’s competitive labor market.

Tapping the Talent
Employers or others interested in learning more about hiring transitioning servicemembers and veterans should contact the State Director of Veterans’ Employment and Training in their state. In partnership with two state employment service offices, VETS has established ProVet as a pilot program. The two states and their targeted industries are:

North Carolina – industrial equipment, electronic and transportation manufacturing; and
Tennessee – electronic and computer equipment maintenance.

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