North Carolina has the 4th highest active military population in the United States, with approximately 16,000 servicemembers transitioning to the civilian world each year. The majority of these servicemembers have spouses who become integral to the fabric of the surrounding community, anchoring the family to the area though employment, volunteerism and advocacy. This, combined with the State’s military friendly efforts and the removal of taxation on military retirement benefits, is leading more and more military affiliated families to make North Carolina their permanent home. The result? A large, ready-to-work population for employers from which to hire.
Transitioning servicemembers and veterans are desirable hires in that they have many of the soft skills that employers say are lacking in workforce today. Veterans know the importance of teamwork, have a fierce work ethic and are used to performing in austere conditions. Veterans also have practical experience and education in high-demand industries such as manufacturing, transportation, aerospace and aviation and health care. Honorably discharged veterans clear backgrounds, and many have special security clearances which are highly sought after by federal contractors, as they can be expensive and difficult to procure once active service is completed.
The Department of Defense and the United States Department of Labor are committed to ensuring that veterans are given every opportunity to succeed post service. They offer transition readiness programs, paid internship programs via SkillBridge, and special services designed to connect veteran talent with lucrative jobs through the American Job Center (AJC) network. In North Carolina, the AJCs are called NCWorks and are staffed with veterans ready to assist with resume writing and translating military skills into civilian jargon, job interviewing, job referrals, connection to mental health and housing assistance and a variety of other services. This specialized staff also reaches out to employers to educate them on the benefits of hiring veterans such as Work Opportunity Tax Credits and advocate on behalf of the transitioning community.
With such a large and highly skilled transitioning population, plentiful local, state and federal resources, and a desire to hire veterans, why are employers still having problems filling their open jobs? Many factors contribute to this issue such as employers may lack understanding of the skillsets servicemembers obtain throughout their service or they have preconceived notions about military personalities and potential disabilities. Smaller companies do not have the time or manpower to actively recruit employees, much less attend the many career fairs offered aboard the military installations. There is also the very real expectation gap by both employer and veteran when it comes to pay scale and compensation. A married servicemember with one enlistment makes approximately $48,000 per year when total military pay is considered. This does not include the 30 days of leave and healthcare benefits that servicemembers and dependents are entitled to while on active duty. Employers and veterans need to understand and appreciate this discrepancy.
To overcome these barriers, it is imperative to bring veterans and employers together through utilizing NCWorks where veterans have access to job postings 24 hours in advance, attending career fairs for networking opportunities, and leveraging the SkillBridge program to skill up. The North Carolina Military Business Center supports the integration of transitioning military and family members into the state workforce through relationships with NCWorks, local Workforce Development Boards, NC4ME, NC colleges and universities, installation transition programs and family member assistance programs. For more information on how the NCMBC assists with workforce development, visit https://www.ncmbc.us/.
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