"Turning vision into action": That was the theme of a symposium held last Wednesday in Los Angeles. The event was put on by the city of Los Angeles Workforce Investment Board, and of the topics that were discussed, the most compelling was sector training for veterans. Essentially, we had a room full of people whose sole purpose was to figure out better ways to hire veterans. They had a million questions and were looking for answers.
Here's the good news: there are a lot of people who want to help. I was on the panel with private sector leaders from Disney and Cintas, companies who are well-known for being friendly to veterans. Additionally, we were accompanied by public sector members from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the State of California Employment Development Department (EDD) – entities who focus on helping underrepresented groups like veterans find employment. Incredibly, there are also thousands of entities out there that are designed in one way, shape or form to help veterans and their families. These agencies, companies and foundations are located throughout the country in hundreds of cities. They are all around us.
Now for the tough news: most of these entities aren't linked together. A quick Internet search yields a few directories, most with no more than 20 or 30 organizations listed (one I saw that had more was veteransnetwork. net/directory. php). Some of the companies who are interested in hiring veterans like it's challenging to know who to speak with or how to get a listing of great organizations and what they do. Additionally, there is no recognized entity that measures the effectiveness of each group. Simply put, we have several groups out there providing training to veterans, but has that resulted in our vets getting the job?
More good news: These same groups are working towards solutions, and the symposium today was a step towards organizing a few of those groups. Today, they assembled a few dozen companies and agencies. Tomorrow, they'll work on a few thousand. Also, the requests for results-oriented measurement were heard. Both the companies at the meeting and the government agencies are looking at ways to test the effectiveness of their hiring programs. I walked away from the conference feeling better about where the future of veteran workforce development is heading. I look forward to seeing our already improving unemployment numbers get even better.