How Skilled Trade Jobs Can Provide Opportunities for Veterans

military technician at work

For veterans looking to pursue a career involving a skilled trade, which includes industries that require electronic, electrical, mechanical and electro-mechanical technicians, a recent report by the ManpowerGroup on skilled trade jobs presents some surprising facts -- and an opportunity.

According to the Manpower Report, one in three employers globally are reporting difficulty filling these jobs due to lack of available talent, the highest percentage in 12 years. According to Manpower's survey of almost 40,000 employers across 39 countries and territories, the hardest jobs to fill have been technicians, sales representatives and skilled trade workers, the same jobs that employers have reported having difficulty filling for the past four years.

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"There's been a steady trend of media reports regarding a lack of skilled trade workers and technicians, even despite the recent recession," said Mike Starich, president of Orion International, a veteran job recruiting firm. "Back in my father's day, when you graduated high school, you would go to a trade school or college, or enter the blue-collar workforce.

"As America's economy has evolved, there's been a bigger emphasis on four-year degrees, and this 'white-collar push' has created a vacuum where there are few people skilled in the trades."

In such a market, veterans with technical training have a clear advantage, and a good opportunity to get a skilled trade position upon transition out of the military.

"There's a very renewable pool of candidates that can be tapped, and that's folks coming out of the military, where technical training is readily supplied," Starich said. "Employers can no longer turn to a recruiter or campus recruiting and just turn on the faucet to get the skilled talent that they need.

"Companies need to create a steadier pipeline, and the beauty of using a company like Orion is that when these people depart the service, the plumbing to the faucet has already been installed."

Starich and Jeffrey A. Joerres, ManpowerGroup chairman and CEO, both advise employers to institute more long-term programs for taking advantage of this talent.

"Employers can no longer solely rely on a 'just-in-time' approach to hiring, expecting 'on-demand' talent to be available wherever and whenever they need it," Joerres said in the Manpower Report. "It would be unthinkable for a company to plot its growth strategy without identifying a sustainable supply of raw materials, so employers must ensure they have the talent in place to support their business goals."

Added Starich: "You can't just post a local ad and expect candidates to come in off the street anymore. We encourage employers to have a military hiring program, whether it's through an agency like ours or one that they develop on their own, that is dedicated to not only hiring military, but also onboarding military candidates in special ways, such as having current employees with military experience 'buddy up' with the new military hires. It's not just about hiring them but keeping them happy and productive."

For military veterans looking to take advantage of the need for skilled trade workers, Starich provides the following advice: "The more you can tailor your resume to outline your skill sets for the trade that you're interested in, the better. Further, try to include resume bullets detailing any outstanding achievements related to your technical skills. Networking within the industries of interest is always smart, as well as using placement agencies to assist you to get interviews."

Manpower Report's skilled trade jobs most in demand in 2018:

  1. Electricians
  2. Welders
  3. Mechanics
  4. Heavy Equipment Operators
  5. Drivers

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