A new program plans to give veterans and military spouses interested in the tech industry free education, paid fellowships at one of 400 employers nationwide, and access to a network of employers looking to hire.
Announced Tuesday via a webinar, the program, known as Career Forward, is operated by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Hiring Our Heroes and funded through a $10 million grant from Google. The funding pays for 8,000 participants to use the program.
Participants will move through a three-step career process. First, they will earn Google career certificates via an online education platform, Coursera. After finishing the certificate program, which takes between three and six months, they can be placed in a 12-week paid fellowship in one of the Hiring Our Heroes network companies. Finally, once they've completed the certification and fellowship, they can access Google's employer consortium, which considers program graduates for related job openings.
"We know that a traditional four-year degree is not for everyone, or the only pathway to career success," Eric Eversole, the president of Hiring Our Heroes, said during the announcement event. "Credentials, such as career certificates, send a clear message to employers that a candidate has the skills, drive and commitment to succeed in any role."
The program is open to all veterans, active-duty and veteran spouses, and active-duty members preparing to transition out of the military living in the U.S. Troops and spouses stationed overseas who are within one year of returning stateside also can register.
Users register for one of five certificate programs: project management; data analytics; UX design; IT support; and Google IT Automation with Python Professional. Only the Google IT Automation with Python Professional certificate program requires prior experience. Graduates of the Google certification programs earn an average starting salary of $63,600, according to Google.
More than 60% of veterans do not have a college degree, according to 2017 data, the most recent available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The veteran unemployment rate sat at 3.6% in September, the latest date for which data is available, according to the Department of Labor; the overall U.S. unemployment rate was 4.8%.
Military spouse unemployment is estimated at between 20% and 24%, down from an estimated 36% at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, according to Hiring Our Heroes. The Department of Labor does not track military spouse unemployment rates.
Hiring Our Heroes currently administers multiple industry-focused programs, including a Salesforce fellowship, a Toyota Technician training program, and a fellowship for the solar power industry. About 5,000 veterans and military spouses have graduated from those programs, with 92% of veterans and 86% of military spouses securing full-time employment as a direct result, officials said.
Those interested in participating can apply on the Hiring Our Heroes website.
-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at email@example.com.