No Longer Desperate for Work, Veterans Seek More Meaningful
For veterans, underemployment is the new unemployment.
With the U.S. Labor Department announcing earlier this month that low, veterans groups, advocates and veterans themselves are sounding a new alarm: underemployment.
The department cites that of the three million plus post-9/11 veterans employed in the civilian workforce today, less than 40 percent hold management, professional and related occupations.
My industry, technology, is part of the problem. For too long, technology executives have looked past veteran talent because they were seeking “industry experience.” In truth, veterans’ skillsets are highly transferrable.
We need to work hard and do more to get veterans into more STEM-based opportunities because they are equipped to do the job and do it well. This is a result of being responsible for understanding, maintaining and operating multi-million and billion-dollar military technologies and equipment.
Bridging the Technical Gap
Retraining and deployment of veterans to fill these high-in-demand roles is not as hard as many suggest. In fact, there are many resources available to source, train and place veterans effectively and quickly. Veterans have proven to thrive in corporate environments where they are hired as full-time employees, trained in teams to succeed in the highly demanding corporate world, and then deployed to clients in mutually supporting squads. It allows them to adjust to civilian life with a support system they are familiar with.
If you know anything about veterans – whether you are one, are related to one, or are passionate about veterans issues like me – you already know veterans are incredibly highly-skilled, talented and dedicated people who bring a range of rare – and in demand – attributes to the workforce.
And they know it. According to a report by Hiring Our Heroes, a nonprofit that helps place veterans in jobs, 44 percent of veterans left their first job out of the military within a year due to dissatisfaction.
It’s time corporate America made room for our veterans. And based on our labor market, that room already exists. The technology sector in particular is at a loss to fill high-skilled, tech-savvy positions with Americans. An April analysis by Fortune found that nearly 66 percent of all H-1B visa applications processed in Q1 this year were for computer and math workers. But, due to potential changes to the H-1B program from the Trump administration, CNN Money reports the number of H-1B applications has declined for the first time in five years.
What does this mean? It means that the U.S technology sector has been relying on foreign labor for years and that finally, there appears to be room for a new entrant. I propose veterans.
Veterans, who have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country, deserve more than just a job – they deserve a satisfying, challenging and meaningful career. And it’s not a matter of pity, it’s a matter of business sensibility. These men and women – both able and disabled – are dedicated problem-solvers with unmatched technological experience and a history of innovation.
Veterans are uniquely equipped to contribute to the business sector in ways civilians cannot. Not only have veterans been responsible for understanding, maintaining and operating some of the most complex systems and technologies in existence today – like naval navigation technologies, sophisticated communications systems and cyber-security programs – they are entrusted with interpreting and responding to the most sensitive military intelligence.
For corporations, this translates into reliable employees able to work under pressure, prioritize the needs of the team, communicate directly, and review and evaluate their work to achieve continuous improvement.
Add to that the military’s trademark ability to work as a cohesive team that learns and adapts to rapidly changing circumstances, which is a significant challenge facing many companies today. That’s a valuable business proposition.
In our current business and political climate, veterans are an important – and potentially game-changing – resource. Putting their mix of skills, discipline, teamwork and technical know-how to work is not only good for them – it’s good for business and our nation.