Money & Business

Study: Finding Post-Military Employment No Easy Task For Veterans

By / Nov 7, 2013 (iStock/Thinkstock)
While there is substantial training available to military personnel months before they separate, service members still face many struggles as they make the transition to the civilian sector.

After leaving military service, vets report having a hard time translating their military experience into civilian jobs. To help bridge the gap, associations are offering veterans skills-training programs.

As we honor America’s veterans on Monday, one association is calling attention to the difficulty a lot of vets are having landing a job.

According to a study conducted by the Military Benefit Association, two-thirds of currently employed vets said it was at least somewhat difficult to find a job after leaving the military, and nearly 80 percent of recently separated veterans—those who have left military service—said it was difficult to translate their military skills for hiring managers.

“While there is substantial training available to military personnel months before they separate, service members still face many struggles as they make the transition to the civilian sector,” retired U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt.  Roy Gibson, president of MBA, said in a statement.

Overall, the veteran unemployment rate—6.5 percent in September—is down from a year ago and lower than the national average of 7.2 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But post-9/11 or second Gulf War-era veterans are not faring as well. Since last year, unemployment among this group has increased from 9.7 percent to 10.1 percent.

The MBA study found that 40 percent of unemployed, recently separated veterans have been out of work anywhere from four to 12 months, and about 30 percent have been out of work for more than a year.

Given the challenges they face, it’s clear our country’s heroes need to begin thinking and acting like veterans well before they leave active duty,” Gibson said. “For example, during the transition from active duty, someone who has a specialty skill in repairing jet engines should think of themselves more broadly as a mechanic instead of simply an aircraft technician.”

Some associations, such as the International Franchise Association, are helping veterans bridge the post-military job divide by providing skills training. IFA’s Operation Enduring Opportunity, an expansion of the organization’s VetFran program launched after the first Gulf War, has brought more than 151,000 veterans and their military spouses into the franchising industry, including about 5,000 as franchise owners, since 2011.

“With nearly one million retiring military personnel returning back to civilian life after their tour of duty, these brave men and women are looking for new career opportunities that leverage their vast skill sets and experience,” said Steve Caldeira, IFA president and CEO. “We know that veterans make great franchise owners because they are trained to follow proven and very structured operational systems. While they may not get the opportunity to be a franchise owner at the outset of entering the industry, the fact that they are getting direct, hands-on experience will provide them with the best possible pathway to potentially get there.”

Similarly, the Student Conservation Association offers a career training program for veterans interested in conservation jobs, and the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States, Canada, and Australia created the Veterans in Piping program to provide free training in the plumbing industry.

Is your association offering skills training to veterans? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include a comment from the CEO of the International Franchise Association. The story previously quoted a source who is no longer with IFA.

Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. More »

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