WASHINGTON — Officials from General Electric, Alcoa, Boeing and Lockheed Martin announced a new initiative Monday to train 100,000 veterans in advanced manufacturing jobs, with the dual goals of repaying their service and restocking the talent needed for those high-tech jobs in the coming years.
The “Get Skills to Work” program — which will be run by the Manufacturing Institute — will launch with 15,000 veterans immediately and work to train 85,000 more over the next three years. According to industry experts, roughly 600,000 high-tech manufacturing jobs are unfilled in the United States, but hiring managers have difficulty finding workers with the necessary skills.
“Where we really see the need is in the supply chain, not just the big corporations like GE,” said Jay Timmons, CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers. “We’ve heard so much about manufacturing jobs in this election cycle, and the need to strengthen the industry. One of the ways we can do that is through veterans.”
The initiative goes beyond government training programs for separating troops and is the latest push by corporate America help bridge the gap between veterans’ military skills and the ones they’ll need to succeed in business.
On Oct. 27, Home Depot will host a career workshops for veterans at stores across the country, to cover resume writing and interview techniques for any job. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has hosted more than 300 “Hiring our Heroes” job fairs in the last year, and offered a host of resources to help connect unemployed veterans and understaffed companies.
And the White House’s Joining Forces campaign has teamed with hundreds of businesses to find jobs for more than 175,000 veterans over the last 18 months, with a goal of more than 250,000 by 2016.
The new “Get Skills to Work” program will offer accelerated skills training, through regional community colleges, for veterans with a range of technical military skills — a population primed to succeed in the industry, Timmons said.
Officials said the initative will work with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University to develop toolkits for veterans and employers to help both understand the interview process better and how military skills translate to the civilian manufacturing sector.
Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, said his company plans to hire about 1,000 veterans annually, so creating better trained potential employees helps the company’s bottom line.
“But we do really think this is a plan where one plus one equals three,” he said. “It helps our suppliers, it helps our veterans, and it’s good for us. We think this is something that is good for everybody.”
Earlier this month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated the September unemployment rate for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars at 9.7 percent — down about one percent from a month earlier and down several points from a year earlier, but still significantly higher than the 7.8 percent rate for the country as a whole.
More information is available online at www.GetSkillstoWork.org.