Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

Programs are at work to connect service members with certification programs.

There is no employer with more strenuous on-the-job training than the military.

Service members are introduced to unfamiliar mechanical systems and expected to achieve proficiency in very short periods of time. This also occurs in environments of extreme stress and duress. Having risen to meet such challenges, these individuals have proven themselves above and beyond their civilian peers in competition for many jobs. And advanced manufacturing is at the top of the list for employers seeking veterans.

But for too long, employers in advanced manufacturing have either lacked an awareness of veteran skill sets or have been denied easy access to this extremely desirable pool of potential employees. But this has recently begun to change; programs across the country now recognize that the ideal candidate for high wage careers in advanced manufacturing are the veterans transitioning out of military service every day.

A soldier who drove a truck through the mountains of Afghanistan for more than a year, for instance, may still lack the official certifications necessary to drive a truck for a civilian company.

Ensuring a smooth transition from military to civilian occupation for these highly skilled service members means certifying attained skills. A soldier who drove a truck through the mountains of Afghanistan for more than a year, for instance, may still lack the official certifications necessary to drive a truck for a civilian company. The same is true for certifications necessary for work in advanced manufacturing.

Luckily, the Department of Defense, the Department of Labor, and regional coalitions have been working to overcome this obstacle.

For example, take a look at an initiative to certify transitioning soldiers in metalwork that’s been realized in Virginia. This program is a collaboration between the Virginia Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing, Southside Virginia Community College, the Virginia Employment Commission, and the Soldiers for Life program that serves transitioning soldiers at Fort Lee, Virginia. The program combines rigorous online study with 260 hours of project-based, hands-on training.

The final result will be outbound soldiers possessing as many as six National Institute for Metalworking certificates. This allows transitioning service members to verify the skills they already possess, gain experience in the type of work into which they are transitioning, and compete with civilian peers for middle class jobs with strong salaries.

As recognition among employers of the value that veterans bring to manufacturing continues to grow, more opportunities like the Fort Lee initiative will emerge. Connecting these companies with skilled workers who have sacrificed to serve our country is a win for all involved. The Alliance for American Manufacturing hopes to see similar programs created and expanded to ensure all veterans interested in such opportunities are afforded a chance to pursue them.