Could the solution to the manufacturing industry’s skills gap be patiently waiting in plain sight? The possibility is appreciable when you consider the U.S. workforce has a ready demographic who possess prior experience working with technology and machinery. This is a group who is trained in precision, leadership and discipline. The demographic is veterans; a group former Defense Secretary Robert Gates calls, “one of the most underutilized talent pools in our country.”
Veteran’s Cross-Functional Skill Set
Perform under pressure
Comfort with diversity
More and more companies are looking for ways to incorporate the hiring of veterans into their workplace, including hiring managers within the manufacturing industry who are discovering the cross-functional skills this group offers. Such benefits include prior experience working within defined processes and workflows while having the ability to improvise and apply critical-thinking skills. The group is experienced in working with technology and comfortable using frequent application of problem-solving and math skills, all which have complementary applications within the manufacturing industry.
Making the Transition
Despite possessing transferable skills, currently veteran-related employment lags that of the employment of non-veterans. This is due to several factors such as the need for buy-in from management before hiring and an experienced mentor/adviser who can translate Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) codes into comparable open positions within a company, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce. Mentoring from former military personnel can also ease the transition as veterans move from military to civilian life.
Ready Pool of Candidates
2 million post-9/11 veterans
250,000 service members transition out of the military every year for the foreseeable future
1 million+ veterans currently in college
100,000 veterans graduate from college each year
Two-thirds of veterans will leave their first post-military job within two years
George W. Bush Institute
In addition to employing individuals who’ve been schooled in the transferable skills of leadership, flexibility, discipline and teamwork, companies who employ veterans can also take advantage of tax credits. The Returning Heroes Tax credit offers a maximum credit of $5,600/veteran hired, and the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit offers businesses hiring individuals with service-connected disabilities a tax credit of $9,600/veteran.
Manufacturing companies that are interested in exploring the hiring of veterans in their manufacturing operations are encouraged to host a booth at a local military job fair. This is a way to meet veterans face-to-face while increasing the visibility of manufacturing jobs that demonstrate the positive changes within the industry.
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