Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Veteran Career Training Programs Offer Pathway to Civilian Jobs


For many veterans, a common barrier to entry into the civilian workforce is a perceived lack of relevant experience. One way veterans can overcome this challenge is through corporate-sponsored training programs. The veterans who are participating in these programs enter the workforce armed with knowledge from some of the nation’s foremost companies.

Microsoft, a 2013 Fortune Best Company to Work For, has recently expanded their Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA) to Camp Pendleton and Fort Hood. The 16-week program, that provides IT training to eligible U.S. active-duty transitioning service members, began last year at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where a third class is now being held.

Students in the course are taught by professors from Saint Martin’s University in Washington and Central Texas College using a customized Microsoft IT Academy curriculum, and Microsoft employees volunteer as mentors. The ultimate goal of the interactive lessons and mock interviews is the opportunity to interview at Microsoft. But, even if the training doesn’t end in a career with Microsoft, the training is sure to be invaluable. According to reports, nearly 90 service members are benefiting from or have already completed the MSSA. Learn more about the Microsoft Software & Systems Academy.

Cisco offers a training program, also geared toward technology, called the CSR Program: Veterans Program. Introduced in May 2013, Cisco’s IT Training and Certification Program enables transitioning military personnel with prior IT experience to access IT training, certification, and career-matching opportunities. Selected service members are invited to register on a talent exchange platform where they can explore careers, take a quick assessment, and choose from a selection of IT certifications, such as Cisco CCNA.

According to the Cisco blog, “After completing the coursework and passing the certification exam provided by select IT training and exam partners, the Pipeline will then match their military experience and qualifications to qualifying high-demand, civilian IT job postings.” The program also offered track IT training and certification scholarships to 1000 service members. Additionally, the Cisco Networking Academy  has helped more than 51,000 military personnel develop information and communications technology (ICT) skills since 1997. Learn more about Cisco’s Veteran Program.

IT is not the only field offering these programs. Accenture, Easter Seals Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, Orion International, and Efiia Cares are offering Veteran and Military Spouse Project Management Training, an intensive project management (PM) training classes for veterans and military spouses throughout 2014. The objective of the program is to help veterans and military spouses compete for higher paying, executive management track positions that lead to long-term professional success.

Though the class does not provide a formal certification, it does provide intensive classroom instruction on project management fundamentals, preparation for the PMP Exam, as well as group exercises, case studies, resume support, and interview practice. The program is offered at no cost to veterans, military spouses, and active duty military scheduled for separation in 2014. 

The inaugural class held in January 2014 was attended by 30 students who came ready to learn the fundamentals of project management, industry standards, and best practices based on real projects. The students participated in classroom instruction, group exercises, presentations, resume writing, practice interviews, and training on management tools. When asked their opinion of the course, every student agreed that the course will help them in their current job or job search. Additionally, 100% of the students said they would recommend the course. Additional classes were held in May and June, and the next class will be held in the fall in the Washington DC area. Learn more about this program.

Another program that was just announced is the Shifting Gears Automotive Technician Training Program sponsored by General Motors, the U.S. Army, and Raytheon Company. The program begins in August 2014 and is a part of the Army’s Soldier for Life support program. Once the program is completed, participants will receive career counseling, job-placement recommendations and employment assistance from Army Soldier for Life centers, and access to available GM technician employment opportunities through GM’s authorized dealer network. GM's dealer network needs approximately 2,500 new technicians annually and qualified technicians are often in short supply, so the program helps meet this need while offering veterans a civilian career path. Learn more here.

Training programs like these, whether geared toward technological, project management, or mechanical skills, are giving veterans the opportunity to hone their skills and explore how they can apply those skills to careers with some of the nation’s top companies. When speaking about Microsoft’s program, Command Sgt. Maj. Douglas R. Gault, U.S. Garrison Fort Hood, sums it up, “The beauty of programs like this is they develop the necessary skills that complement the talents of our service members while they are still in the Army — skills that translate into real job opportunities before they transition into civilian life. I would encourage any company that is looking for tough, hard-working, dedicated employees who demonstrate leadership to consider hiring our transitioning soldiers.”

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