Two serious issues in America could potentially be solved with one solution: hiring skilled veterans to fill thousands of open advanced manufacturing positions across the country.
This is exactly what GE, the Manufacturing Institute and the National Association of Manufacturing plan to do, and have already signed up 190 manufacturing companies to be a part of the Get Skills to Work (GSTW) coalition. Most of the businesses fall into small- and medium-sized categories, which is where the help is needed most. One survey found that 82 percent of such manufacturing companies say they have had a hard time finding workers with the right skills for the highly technical world of today's manufacturing facilities.
By joining the coalition, businesses will be able to use a wide range of online tools that will match employers with veterans who have the exact skills that are in demand. LinkedIn is doing its part to help the effort, and will help veterans find employers looking for experience in welding, machining, logistics and other skills crucial to the manufacturing process.
"More than a million service members will be transitioning out of the military over the next five years, providing employers and our country with candidates who bring technical proficiency and leadership. So hiring veterans makes good business sense," said GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt. "Through Get Skills to Work, GE is proud to work with fellow manufacturers and employers to train veterans in advanced manufacturing and help connect them to jobs. Ultimately, we can help veterans and drive the economic recovery."
A long road
Currently, advanced manufacturing firms need to fill about 600,000 positions. With 1.9 million unemployed veterans in the country, the right tools could help these positions fill more quickly, but more work will need to be done to ensure the nation's heroes have a career path upon returning to the country. Moreover, 69 percent of these veterans say that "finding a job" has been one of the hardest parts of coming home from active duty.
"Simply put, veteran hiring is a matter of supply and demand. GE and GSTW partners are ensuring that veterans will not only have the necessary skills to transition to the civilian workforce, but that they are also successfully matched to employers and open positions," said actor Gary Sinise, who founded the veteran rights advocacy group the Gary Sinise Foundation.
The GSTW coalition alone is expected to help 15,000 veterans match their skill sets with an employer in need, however it hopes to continue growing and adding members. By 2015, the group is aiming to have helped 100,000 veterans find work.
"The GSTW coalition represents an exciting new avenue for the VA to expand economic opportunity for veterans," said Jonah Czerwinski, director of the VA Center for Innovation. "Advanced manufacturing is a promising pathway for those who served our nation in uniform to serve an important role in our nation's economy."
The move to hire veterans is going well beyond the manufacturing industry. According to Fox Business, several companies, ranging from retail outlets to financial services firms, are hoping to add more veterans to their payrolls. Covanta Energy, for example, hires veterans to manage its large-scale energy projects, where necessary skills include electrical, instrumentation and technical work. Already, 14 percent of the company's workforce is made up of veterans.
One of the biggest supporters of veteran hiring is the financial services and credit card segment. Capital One recently announced it is hoping to hire more veterans to fill its IT positions, with 2,000 jobs available.
Staffing companies, too, are doing their part to ensure all veterans have a solid career path after they serve.