Business leaders have launched an initiative to connect veterans with job opportunities.
While other organizations offer career training and other services for veterans, the Northern Virginia Technology Council Veterans Employment Initiative has a strong focus on the employer side of the equation, according to the co-chairs of the initiative, Steve Cooker and David Lucien.
“The key thing I see that is different from other programs is that this is a business-driven initiative,” said Cooker, executive vice president of employment services company Monster Worldwide.
While NVTC member companies already employ tens of thousands of veterans, there still are many more looking for work, with additional younger veterans trying to join the workforce as U.S. military operations in Afghanistan wind down, Lucien said.
The focal point of the initiative is a website, developed and hosted pro bono by Monster, that allows employers to post job openings for which they are trying to recruit veterans and also helps connect veterans and employers with other services. About 4,000 jobs already have been posted there, said Lucien, who is chief executive of DCL Associates, a consulting company.
Additional resources and volunteer support for the initiative are provided by the dozen businesses and organizations that are the charter members of the Veterans Employment Initiative.
It was important to the initiative collaborators to do more than just put up job listings, Cooker said. They are planning on organizing networking events, workshops for veterans and opportunities for employers to share best practices for veteran recruitment, hiring and retention.
“We see it as a very active program moving forward,” he said.
Smaller employers in particular are in need of support for developing programs for veterans, Lucien said.
“You have to keep them engaged, you have to provide the education, otherwise they will turn over and move to another job,” he said.
One of the biggest challenges for veteran employment is communication, Cooker said. Veterans don’t always know how to translate their military training and experience into private-sector skills when preparing resumes or participating in job interviews.
“Being able to articulate what those skills mean in commercial terms is a problem,” he said.
The site includes a military skills translator to aid veterans in preparing their resumes, and the workshops for veterans also will cover these skills.
The final piece of the effort is advocacy, Lucien said. NVTC is working with state and federal officials to advocate for policies that help facilitate veteran employment, as well as working with Northern Virginia Community College to develop and expand career training programs for veterans.
The Veterans Employment Initiative website is at www.nvtc.monster.com.