Our nation’s veterans are struggling to find jobs – especially young veterans. As of November 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 9.9 percent of veterans of post-9/11 wars were out of work.
That’s 241,000 men and women who started their professional lives by sacrificing for the rest of us, who now can’t find careers in the civilian workforce.
With more than one million veterans set to transition into civilian life in the next three years, this situation will only get worse if we don’t do something about it.
To combat veteran unemployment across the nation, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), working with Monster Worldwide, the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC), and a half-dozen other tech associations, is unveiling USTechVets.org at the 2014 International CES®.
USTechVets is an online community that aims to be the largest collection of veteran job candidates and technology industry jobs. What started as a local program of the NVTC will now be a national resource for all of our veterans.
Other tech companies across the country are also working to fill this need, offering career training, networking and job certification programs for veterans.
The self-discipline, problem-solving, leadership and maturity members of the military learn in service are invaluable in any career field.
Employers in the tech sector are especially eager to hire veterans who exemplify these traits. They work with veterans to teach them how their military skills and experience can transfer to civilian jobs, and what value they will bring to a company.
These programs help veterans create solid resumes and learn how to field interview questions, and offer tech training and certification.
Microsoft has launched a training program for veterans called the Software & Systems Academy. The academy offers technology classes and training to military personnel while they’re still on active duty, to prepare them for the transition to the civilian workforce.
The inaugural class, held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Fort Lewis, Wash., will graduate 23 students, each of whom will be hired by Microsoft or one of its contractors. More classes will be held in other states, including Texas and California, in coming months.
Google’s initiative, VetNet, offers veterans a platform to network and find jobs as they transition out of the military. The website features tools for job-searching, resume-writing, networking and even support for entrepreneurs.
Service members can explore job postings and connect with other veterans for help and advice, both online and through posted events.
CompTIA’s Troops to Tech program trains veterans for jobs in the tech sector. They work to transition active duty military personnel into high-paying tech jobs, offering classes and certification programs that prepare veterans for jobs in IT companies.
Last month, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy teamed up with private sector partner companies to launch Warriors 4 Wireless. The program, which aims to find wireless sector jobs for 5,000 veterans by 2015, works with companies like PCIA – the Wireless Infrastructure Association – to train veterans to work in the wireless industry.
Our heroes deserve more than lip service in return for their sacrifices for their country. They have laid it all on the line for us. Now it’s up to us to step up and show our gratitude by doing all we can to make their transition into civilian life as smooth as possible.
These initiatives in the IT industry are a great start, but we have to keep working on our veterans’ behalf.
No veteran should ever face unemployment. Let’s never forget the heroes who have offered their time and talent to protect the freedoms we all cherish.
Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,000 consumer electronics companies. His latest book is "Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World's Most Successful Businesses," (William Morrow, January 2013). He is also author of the New York Times bestselling book, "The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream" Contact him on Twitter at @GaryShapiro.