The White House on Monday announced a public-private partnership that the Obama administration said will put more than 100,000 veterans to work in the information technology sector over the next seven years.
The IT Training and Certification Partnership comes nearly a year after the White House directed the Pentagon to set up a task force to tackle the issue of smoothing the way for servicemembers to transition into civilian careers on the strength of their military training.
Under the program, exiting servicemembers will be able to take training courses to prepare for internationally recognized industry certifications at no cost.
First Lady Michelle Obama announced the new program Monday morning at the start of a series of roundtable talks among defense, veterans and industry officials to improve veteran transition to other career areas.
"These folks … are some of the most highly skilled, best trained, hardest working, diligent, dedicated, proud and smartest people we have in this country," she told those gathered in a small auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
Servicemembers who worked in IT career fields in the military have had trouble getting related jobs or been forced to take classes on things they already knew because of "red tape, outdated rules, or simple lack of coordination," officials said.
The IT initiative was led from the industry side by Cisco Systems, working with Futures Inc., and other corporate partners. The new program will mean job opportunities for up to 161,000 veterans in a dozen high-demand IT professions between now and 2020.
The roundtable talks planned throughout the day are intended to also focus on three other employment sectors relevant to military training and experience: emergency medical services, healthcare, and transportation. Discussions will also center on ways to make it easier for veterans to turn their skills and training into academic credit.
"Today I hope that you will start working together to try to figure out where the gaps are and how we can work together to close those gaps," Mrs. Obama said. "If you have a program or a curriculum that's working at your school or hospital or company we really want you to share that information … If you think there are courses or cortication that our military should be offering t o better prepare members to transition or you think they need to revise what currently offering to make it more relevant, don't be shy. Speak up. Let them know."
It was these kinds of roundtables that resulted in the IT certification program announced today, she said. Mrs. Obama held up the IT program as "an outstanding example of what can happen when industry comes together with the armed forces on behalf of our veterans.