Bringing Veterans and their Skills to the Manufacturing Sector

Four companies- Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Alcoa Inc., and General Electric- are taking on the issue of veteran unemployment in a creative way. On October 15th, this group of industry mammoths unveiled an innovative program designed to train and hire veterans to work in the manufacturing sector. Building upon the substantive skills veterans have already acquired from their military training, these programs will work with local community and technical colleges to help veterans learn new skills and earn additional certifications. This training will enable veterans to begin to fulfill the industry’s need for 600,000 highly-skilled employees which companies say they cannot find in the United States.

This initiative represents a remarkable opportunity for our veterans who are currently experiencing an unemployment rate of 9.8%, two percentage points higher than the national average. According to Jess Immelt, the Chairman and CEO of GE, “we have an opportunity to help veterans with extraordinary leadership capabilities better compete for good paying jobs with a long-term future.” Together, GE, Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, and Alcoa Inc. currently employ 64,000 veterans.

The program is designed to train 15,000 veterans in 10 cities across the United States and with an endowment of $6 million it provides many soldiers with the opportunity to participate free of charge. This program compliments a national effort by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the White House to help 100,000 veterans and their spouses find employment by 2014. These efforts, coordinated by the Manufacturing Alliance trade organization, also find partnership in the non-profit sector: San Diego-based Workshops for Warriors seeks to provide veterans with similar opportunities.

With a combination of strong efforts from all sides- private, public, and governmental- the objective of increasing veteran employment in manufacturing is certain to be achieved. In the words of Bob Stevens, Lockheed Martin Chairman and CEO, “America’s veterans want and deserve the opportunity to contribute to our society and provide for their families. There is no greater way to say ‘thanks’ for all their service and sacrifice, which enable all of us to live safe and secure lives, and pursue our dreams every day [than this].”


Posted by Sophia Higgins

Sources: Reuters, Department of Defense, DailyFinance, Workshops for Warriors, The Manufacturing Institute

Photo source: 2010 Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans @ Mays Business Schools’s photostream courtesy of Flickr user Mays Business School


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