There are a lot of programs for separating veterans looking for their first civilian job, but one Army program has the numbers to back up its success. For the soldiers who use it, the Army's Career Skills Program has seemingly mastered what it takes to put veterans in a new post-military career.
All soldiers are required to take a 5-day Transition Assistance Program (TAP) class before they separate. What is unique about the Career Skills Program is that it provides training opportunities for soldiers interested in critical in-demand career fields.
After completing mandatory TAP training and up to 180 days before separating, interested soldiers can find a CSP training program in their new, chosen career field and use a permissive temporary duty assignment to attend the program, if it's more than 50 miles from their permanent duty station.
Soldiers interested in a new job can catch apprenticeships, on-the-job training, job shadowing and internships in some 210 different Career Skills Programs. Opportunities range from auto maintenance and repair to pipefitting and welding to solar energy technology.
And it doesn't have to have anything to do with the soldier's military occupational specialty.
"If someone drives trucks in the Army, but decides they never want to step foot in another commercial vehicle again, they can do a CSP on being a pipefitter, construction trade, or whatever they want to do," says Christine Traugott, assistant deputy for Child, Youth and School Services and Education in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.
The best part of all is that since 2015, the Army has been able to place 21,000 transitioning soldiers in new jobs with a stunning 93% success rate. In 2019 alone, 4,782 soldiers left the military fully trained for their new full-time job -- with no gap in employment.
That's a big deal in a COVID-19 job market world.
While the Army would prefer to retain its best talent, officials said, the next best thing is to make sure soldiers leaving the Army have a soft landing and become a good example of an Army veteran, a walking advertisement for how the Army can help individuals achieve their goals.
"We hope soldiers will be influencers in their communities," Traugott says. "They will talk to their kids, family and anybody else about their experience, how the Army prepared them for the life they have."
Companies like Ryder, ComStar and even Microsoft have CSP training programs for soldiers that can be paid for either through GI Bill funds or through Department of Labor grants in some locations. Every training program is different, so be sure to check out the Army's Career Skills Program website for the details about getting command authorization and to see what programs are available.
-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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