With veteran unemployment falling to 3.9% in November 2021, national attention is shifting to veteran underemployment. Veterans are considered underemployed when their skills are not being fully utilized, leaving them struggling to make ends meet or to feel like they're meeting their full potential. The rate of veteran underemployment is much higher, around 15%, and is also much higher than that of their civilian counterparts.
To combat this, nonprofits, labor unions and American corporations have created job training and placement programs for vets to put them into jobs in critically undermanned industries and sectors. Many of these programs offer paid training and placement, or at least the opportunity for networking and an interview with a hiring manager.
This 2022 list features programs in fields from utilities to information technology and everything in between, but it's important to note that Military.com's list of job placement programs for 2021 is still active, valid and worth taking a look.
If you're one of the estimated 200,000 service members who will be leaving the military this coming year and don't yet have a job or transition plan in place, be sure to check out these nine programs. One of them might be the answer you've been searching for.
1. IBEW Veterans Electrical Entry Program (VEEP)
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is looking to fill its ranks with U.S. military veterans and is willing to foot the bill to train and find jobs for any one of them who wants to transition into the life of a fully qualified and licensed electrician.
The program starts with filling out an application, on which the candidate also will list desirable places to start work. VEEP personnel will try to get the veteran as close as possible to that location, then send them through a free seven-week, pre-apprenticeship program in Alaska. After that, they are off to apprentice training at their new jobs, the first step to their new career.
2. Salesforce Trailhead Military
The Salesforce Trailhead Military training program is unique in that it is entirely self-directed, which means veterans can start the training whenever they want and progress through it at their own pace. Many finish in as little as four months, even as full-time military personnel.
After finishing, Salesforce puts the veteran on a carefully chosen path to Salesforce certifications and exams. Military personnel who complete Salesforce certification are also eligible for a 12-week fellowship program with a Salesforce partner. This fellowship, along with the regular certification, will pipeline vets to cloud computing jobs with Salesforce or any company that uses the Salesforce system -- and there are hundreds.
ManpowerGroup's entire business model is centered around job training and placement. In 2021, it took the initiative to train as many separating veterans as possible in conjunction with Military Hire and Operation: Job Ready Veterans to pipeline veterans into a job of their choice, free of charge.
It may sound too good to be true, but companies come to ManpowerGroup to fill their critical needs with newly trained people by the thousands every year. The company will recruit veterans to fill those positions, train them at its Academy of Advanced Manufacturing (AAM) and place them in the job. There's no fretting about getting hired after the program, because the veteran was recruited specifically to fill an essential vacancy. Classes are filled year-round, and vets can take the first step at the AAM website.
4. SMART Heroes
2021 was the year of the labor shortage. Unions and companies are all about filling critical vacancies in skilled trades to meet that shortage, because it could be around for a long time. Many of these labor unions naturally saw separating veterans as the solution. Vets are already technically skilled and come with on-the-job experience.
Sheet-metal unions, while realizing that vets aren't necessarily skilled in sheet-metal work, recognized the maturity of veterans and began SMART Heroes. The program will train veterans and place them in a yearlong apprenticeship for jobs like general sheet metal, welding, HVAC service, system testing and building information modeling at no cost. To get more information or apply, fill out the SMART Heroes contact form on the website.
5. Wholepoint Systems
Veterans who have been searching for job training and placement programs might have noticed there are a lot of opportunities out there for reskilling into information technology and coding careers. That's because this is a booming sector in the United States, and it will be for some time. Wholepoint Systems is offering similar training programs with one difference: It works closely with the military and wants prior military employees who know the armed forces.
After training in a coding, computing, cloud administration field (or other IT job), Wholepoint Systems will assign the newly reskilled veteran a career coach who will help shepherd them into finding meaningful work in their new field, which will be in an industry close to the Defense Department. To learn more, visit Wholepoint Systems.
6. UA Veterans in Piping
The shortage of skilled labor hit the union of plumbers, fitters, welders and service techs just as much as it hit other labor unions. The United Association (the union that represents these fields) began its Veterans in Piping (VIP) program to offer free training for active-duty service members to fill these skilled trades with vets.
VIP veterans will take an apprenticeship in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC-R), welding or fire protection and then go on to earn their certification as journeymen and, eventually, skilled tradesmen capable of working in their field, becoming training instructors or starting their own business. The UA Veterans in Piping program is open only to transitioning service members.
7. The Department of Agriculture
In 2021, many shoppers noticed their monthly food bills going up. That's because labor shortages hit America's farm and food production sectors as well. The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants military veterans to bring their work ethic to an often-overlooked area of serving their country: farms and fields.
For any veteran who wants to start a farm of their own, the USDA will help train new farmers and help them look for ways to raise capital. If a veteran is looking to build, expand or refurbish an old farm, the USDA offers some 40 different ways to learn how. Military and veteran spouses are also eligible for many programs.
8. Onward to Opportunity
Syracuse University's Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) is one of the best resources for veterans looking for a post-military career, and one of the reasons for that is its Onward to Opportunity program (O2O). The IVMF offers a considerable list of learning opportunities on its O2O website.
The free program links transitioning service members and active-duty military spouses to new training and certification programs open around the country with companies like Amazon Web Services, Cisco and Skillsoft.
9. Utility Worker Military Assistance Program (UMAP)
Utility workers are always in demand, according to the Utility Workers Union of America, working in power, water, gas, health and safety jobs all across the country. In 2012, the union launched its free seven-month training program to bring transitioning active-duty, guard and reserve military members into the union through the UMAP.
After the seven months of training end, the union will place the service member into a union job anywhere there might be an opening, which could be anywhere. Best of all, the UMAP is a Department of Defense SkillBridge-eligible program, which means the service member can enter the program and finish it during their last six months of service, ready to get to work the day they separate. To sign up or learn more, visit the UMAP website.
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