Many military veterans return home to American soil after years abroad and have difficulties reintegrating themselves. They’ve been disconnected from their families, their friends and their lives. They’ve fallen out of touch culturally, and what’s more, they’ve lost track of the essential skills needed to land civilian jobs.
Meanwhile, information technology has a problem of its own – not enough labor. The growth of new tech solutions such as cloud providers, mobile apps and data analytics has created a vast sea of new jobs, and there aren’t enough people out there to fill them.
Recently, employers and job-seekers alike have come to a common realization – they can kill two birds with one stone. If veterans come home and secure information technology jobs, it helps them get their lives back on track and boosts the productivity of the IT industry as well.
Attention from Washington
Getting veterans into lucrative IT jobs has recently become a priority in Washington, D.C. Even the White House is taking action. President Barack Obama himself hasn’t come out and spoken about the initiative, but his wife has. According to The Hill, First Lady Michelle Obama announced in April that she was forming a partnership between the IT industry and the military to help with recruiting.
The news source estimated that about 161,000 service members would gain the necessary certifications to land high-tech jobs thanks to the new program, Joining Forces, which the first lady has made one of her signature issues. She noted that more than 1 million veterans are expected to flood the marketplace for jobs within the next year.
“It’s most pressing issues we face,” she said.
Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, lauded the first lady’s initiative, telling The Hill that it was a “triple win” – not only do the military vets and IT firms benefit, but the economy as a whole reaps the benefits as well.
Lost in translation
It’s high time an initiative such as Obama’s came along to help veterans land positions. The problem of veteran unemployment has been brewing for a long while, with no end in sight. According to the Spokane Journal, the problem is simple – veterans’ skills are getting lost in translation.
Felicia Jensen is one such example of a lost veteran. Jensen returned home to Washington state at age 45, finishing a 26-year career in the United States Air Force. After deciding she wasn’t fit for the military anymore, she had trouble grappling with the question of “What’s next?”
She told the Journal that she applied to three jobs per week since her April retirement ceremony at the Air Force, but despite her relentless searching, no leads have turned up. Not a single employer has even called her back.
“I did apply for a few jobs right out of the gate, just so I could start that experience because I’ve heard from people that it can take six to eight months before you get a job,” Jensen told the newspaper.
The problem is that Jensen’s skills are no longer relevant in the modern workforce. No matter how adept she may have been in the Air Force, the civilian economy stateside doesn’t have the same needs.
That’s where information technology should come in. By learning a new skill, such as cloud data management or mobile device security, she could find a new way to contribute that’s more relevant in the modern economy.
People who return home from combat face countless troubles. The Journal notes that between 11 percent and 20 percent of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, for instance.
Veterans have many problems, but unemployment shouldn’t be one of them. Luckily, IT can be a solution.