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Employing Veterans

Syracuse University provides resources for businesses

Page 32

By Ingrid Sjostrand

Despite support for hiring veterans, many businesses lack the resources and research to create effective initiatives for veteran employment.

The Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University collaborated with 30 private sector employers and gathered the latest research from reputable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Labor, to help solve this problem. The result was a research publication entitled “The Guide To Leading Policies, Practices & Resources: Supporting the Employment of Veterans & Military Families.”

The goal of this publication is to give employers the tools they need to successfully integrate veterans into the civilian workforce. This report breaks down the reasons behind low veteran employment rates, the challenges employers face, and potential solutions based on leading research and real examples from employers such as JPMorgan Chase & Company, AT&T, Disney and Microsoft. To access the full study visit: vets.syr.edu.

The Challenges:

A key part of the Syracuse study explores the most common challenges, suggests resources and strategies from academic research, and provides examples from leading employers. Below are a few of the obstacles employers face and some suggested practices. (Note: These have been edited for length and only provide a snapshot of the actual study, challenges and recommendations.)

1. Challenge: Articulating a Business Case for Veterans

Moving a comprehensive, veteran-focused employment program forward can be difficult without a clearly communicated case for why hiring veterans is “good for business.”

Recommendation: Disseminate the business case to hiring managers and key influencers, such as board members, to communicate the potential value that a veteran brings to the civilian workforce. Also, customize a business case that links the value of the veteran to your particular firm.

2. Challenge: Certification, License and Experience

Fully leveraging the skills and experiences of military veterans can be a challenge as many businesses lack a full understanding of how a veteran’s training and education correlate to civilian life and work. Many military work roles require licensing and certifications if performed in the civilian workforce.

Recommendation: Identify those work roles within your organization that require state or federal licensure or certification, and concurrently identify those military occupations that assume similar skills, training and experience.

3. Challenge: Skills Transferability, Supply and Demand

Often there is a perception that skills and experiences gained through military service do not always correlate to the work role responsibilities typical of many civilian sector jobs.

Recommendation: Many of the available Military Occupational Specialty translator tools can assist with mapping civilian work roles to military occupations.

4. Challenge: Culture, Leadership Champions and Veterans’ Employment

Pursuing veteran-focused employment initiatives in a rigid, inflexible or idiosyncratic corporate culture makes implementation of specialized hiring initiatives difficult to institutionalize within the firm.

Recommendation: Firms pursuing veteran-focused employment programs should establish an executive level champion for such initiatives and consider establishing a firm-wide advisory board on veterans’ initiatives, chaired by the executive level champion. The executive level champion should plan a consistent, cohesive communication strategy focused on veterans’ issues over a significant period of time.

Ingrid Sjostrand is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.