For some, the holidays are all about food, football, family reunions and reflecting on the gifts for which we are most thankful. As I prepare to celebrate in the days to come, I recognize that I have much to be grateful for – family, friends, and a career I am passionate about. I am also grateful for the service of the brave men and women of our military, who defend the freedoms I hold dear.
A little known fact is that many of America’s veterans are facing significant challenges transitioning into civilian employment once they return home. The members of our armed forces and their families make great sacrifices in the service of our nation, and when their service is concluded, we have an obligation to be their connection to rewarding civilian careers.
Our country has the most highly trained military in the world, supported by individuals whose military education and experience has equipped them with invaluable knowledge and skill sets. Yet, as of January 2013, roughly 844,000 veterans were unemployed and looking for work. Each year the military separates between 240,000 and 360,000 service members, and will separate a million more service members over the next several years.
At the same time, the skills gap continues to expand. According to the United States Department of Labor, the construction industry will need to hire 240,000 new workers each year for the next five years. As the economy recovers and the industry gains momentum, owners with significant capital projects are concerned about how the availability of skilled craft labor will impact their projects. With more experienced workers retiring or leaving the industry, the problem continues to be significant.
Recognizing the breadth and depth of the skill sets and abilities that veterans bring to the table, several industry leaders have taken the initiative to actively recruit military. However, many employers find it difficult to equate military training to the positions for which they are hiring, and it’s not just the employers who are having a hard time. In a recent study, 60% of veterans named “explaining how their military experience translates to skills of interest to a civilian employer” as a challenge to finding employment. To bridge this gap, NCCER’s Build Your Future (BYF) initiative created the Military Crosswalk* and Employer Crosswalk* to help returning service members and employers align various Military Occupational Skill (MOS) codes with construction careers.
Last year the Department of Defense established the Military Credentialing and Licensing Task Force which has been charged with
- identifying military specialties that readily transfer to high-demand jobs;
- working with civilian credentialing and licensing associations to address gaps between military training programs and credentialing and licensing requirements; and
- providing service members with greater access to necessary certification and licensing exams.
In response, BYF – along with key industry leaders – reached out to the federal task force with the aim of assisting with the assessment, training and transitioning military veterans into high-skill, high-wage jobs within the construction industry.
The BYF website also provides resources to assist employers to have successful recruitment events that focus on attracting military members. Its Hire Military video (included at the end of this blog) is a part of the Rethink Careers in Construction video series that articulates to employers the broad range of characteristics that make military men and women attractive candidates for employment in their organizations. The BYF Career Center also allows employers to search and view the resumes of craft professionals with military experience.
While the Government has been making strides to address the issue, members inside the construction industry have an important part to play as well. The field experience, leadership skills and values learned while protecting America translates well into a career building America as a craft professional. Employers now have the opportunity to recruit these highly trained military service members – simultaneously filling high-skilled positions within their organizations and providing the pathway to rewarding careers for our veterans. Leveraging the skills of America’s military will contribute to the building of a stronger construction workforce and provide meaningful civilian employment to the men and women who help to keep our country safe. So show your gratitude: hire military.
* The Military Crosswalk and Employer Crosswalk may be downloaded from BYF’s Resources page with a free registration.