Collaborating Our Way to Stronger Veteran Employment
by: Troops to Trades
August 6, 2015
By Steve Cooker
Back in 2011, the employment situation for our nation’s veterans was substandard. Post-911 vets were facing an unemployment rate of more than 12 percent, and only three out of ten believed they had the ability to achieve career success outside of the military. Employers, for the most part, had little experience and knowledge of the skills veterans bring to a business environment, and had difficulty translating military roles into the private sector.
Fast-forward four years and we have an overall veteran unemployment that is almost half of what it was in 2011. According to the Monster Veterans Talent Index (VTI), a comprehensive analysis of transitioning military service members, veterans and their employers, two-thirds of employers report they hire veterans not to be patriotic, but because they believe they are the most qualified people for the job. The July 2015 VTI also found more veterans are confident in their ability to compete and achieve success in the civilian sector. What does all of this mean? The employment situation for our veterans has improved drastically.
This success can be attributed to a variety of stakeholders — from veterans to government to business leaders — working together to find solutions to these critical challenges.
Government: In 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden came together to launch Joining Forces, a nationwide veteran employment initiative. Joining Forces has served as a rallying cry to all Americans to support service members, veterans, and their families through wellness, education, and employment opportunities. Joining Forces has worked collaboratively with the public and private sector to provide the tools necessary for success in transitioning to civilian life and beyond.
Business-Led Non-Profits: Locally and nationally businesses-led non-profits are helping veterans find meaningful employment in a big way. A great example of this is the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) Veteran Employment Initiative. NVTC, the nation’s largest association of technology employers, began this initiative in 2013 with a focus on connecting veterans with employment opportunities within Virginia’s technology community. Since then NVTC VEI has connected thousands of veterans with regional tech employers. With a similar local community focus, New England Tech Vets is working in the New England region to assist our nation’s veterans. This site, which was designed to connect Post 9/11 Veterans with technology employers and jobs throughout New England, is a part of the national TechVets Network. Using the same platform, U.S. Tech VETS offers a nation-wide, free industry career portal for veterans. Since U.S. Tech VETS was launched in 2014, this collaborative effort of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), NVTC, along with Monster and Military.com, has helped countless veterans, transitioning military personnel and their family members find meaningful jobs in America’s tech industry.
Veterans: Transitioning service members must often adapt to unfamiliar work environments, new cultural norms, and even entirely new ways to communicate with and relate to others. Many veterans have reported that their transitions where among the most difficult things they have ever done. Coming from people who have experienced the challenges of military life and even combat, that is saying a lot. But, our service members have risen to the occasion and embraced the transition with inspiring mission focus, enthusiasm and determination.
Everyone who has committed time, talent, money and effort to finding solutions to veteran unemployment should take pride that we’re making progress as a nation. But, it is important to remember that we still have a lot of work ahead of us. Unemployment amongst our youngest veterans (18-24 years old) is still stubbornly high at over 18 percent, and female veteran unemployment remains higher than that of their male counterparts. As one out of every three veterans return to civilian life with a service connect disability, the challenges will persist. By continuing to collaborate with one another and across the private and public sector we can continue to make positive changes and ensure our veterans return to meaningful jobs at home. Doing so will be good for veterans, good for businesses and good for America!