In my role at GE, I help fellow Veterans find jobs and careers as they leave the service and make the transition to civilian life. As many of us know, this is often easier said than done, particularly as Veterans find it a challenge to translate the unique experiences we gain in the military into skillsets and careers in the civilian workplace.
Today, I hope to share some great news with those in the Veteran community who are looking for employment. I also want to encourage companies, educators, and other organizations to come together to serve Veterans, just as they have served us.
As an example, the manufacturing industry plays a key role to help Veterans transition into civilian jobs, particularly as we prepare for the 1 million Servicemembers that are anticipated to leave the armed forces over the next four years. And, with hundreds of thousands of open manufacturing jobs across America, the industry also provides the opportunity to fuel economic growth, bolster the talent pipeline, and enhance U.S. competitiveness.
With more than 10,000 Veterans currently employed at GE, I’ve seen firsthand that many Veterans have the skills that are ideal for careers in advanced manufacturing, including the leadership abilities, capacity to perform under pressure, and experience working with high-tech machinery and equipment. However, Veterans often lack the professional licenses and credentials that come with civilian training and certification programs.
To address this skills gap, GE, along with the Manufacturing Institute and other major manufacturing partners such as Alcoa, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, designed and launched Get Skills to Work, which convenes manufacturers and educators to prepare and place Veterans in long-term careers in advanced manufacturing. Our goal is to reach 100,000 Veterans by 2015, and we have already reached nearly 30,000. We are confident that this program will help close the skills gap that stands between Veterans and jobs in advanced manufacturing.
This month, Get Skills to Work marked its one-year anniversary and announced Illinois as the first state to join the coalition. Through this new Illinois partnership, the program will help local Veterans pursue and fill open advanced manufacturing jobs by providing training to gain skills certifications. To ensure the offered training meets the immediate needs of local manufacturers, Illinois employers from across the state will work directly with the state’s community colleges to provide quality education grounded in industry-based, in-demand certifications.
Statewide partnerships like this one and the Get Skills to Work training program exist to assist Veterans like Daniel Brewer, who completed the inaugural four-week program in Cincinnati, Ohio.
When Daniel returned from deployment with the U.S. Navy, where he repaired and maintained various aviation electronics equipment, he lacked the formal job training and certifications to apply his know-how in civilian workplaces. Through our program, Daniel was trained in quality audits, production group communication, blueprint reading and work area safety, skillsets commonly needed for a career in advanced manufacturing. Today, Brewer works at GE Aviation.
In addition to training and preparing Veterans like Daniel for the civilian workforce, we’ve also developed a digital badge system that translates applicable military job codes to civilian positions, supported online via the U.S. Manufacturing Pipeline.
As we continue to expand the program nationwide, we understand that targeted and tailored programs work best. GE and our partners are currently convening local officials, employers and community colleges to determine how best to address the pressing hiring needs in cities like Chicago and Houston – areas with significant Veteran populations and open manufacturing jobs.
Veterans are motivated and mission-focused and looking for new opportunities to continue serving this country. When looking to expand your workforce, hiring and training Veterans is the right thing to do. I urge both Veterans and employers to learn more at Get Skills to Work, and on behalf of our program, I invite businesses and corporations and statewide partners to join us in our mission.
Kris Urbauer is the program manager for GE’s Veterans Initiatives