By J.M. Simpson
Originally posted on Northwest Military’s website.
The skilled trades offer veterans a sound and prosperous future.
The aging of Baby Boomers and the disinterest by young adults in the skilled trades has resulted in a labor shortage.
A 2017 survey by CBS News found that for every individual who enters the skilled trades, five are retiring, and only three percent of young people indicated interest in construction work.
To meet this challenge, Utility Service Partners, a HomeServe company and administrator of the NLC (National League of Cities) Service Line Warranty Program, recently kicked off the Veterans Recruitment Initiative to recruit military veterans for skilled trade jobs.
“This isn’t an item on a public relations checklist,” John Kitzie, CEO, HomeServe, wrote in a press release. “It will have a real and positive impact on closing the gap between personnel demand and supply in the skilled trades.”
Over 250,000 servicemembers leave the military annually.
To this end, HomeServe Energy Services and HomeServe network contractors have combined to develop programs for transitioning servicemembers to learn or hone a trade.
HomeServe has also partnered with VIQTORY (viqtory.com), a company dedicated to connecting veterans to previously unknown civilian employment, entrepreneurship and educational opportunities to meet the need for skilled labor.
The gap that has led to the current labor shortage began in the 1950s when educators and some sectors of the economy stressed a need for a college education. This trend accelerated in the 1980s as vocational (as opposed to an academic) education came to be viewed as less than desirable due to its “blue collar” nature.
A 2017 CNBC poll found that high school students who want to find a family wage job should attend a trade, or vocational school.
“There is a shortage of people in the skilled trade field, and hiring veterans is the perfect solution,” explained Army veteran Sylvester Criscone, HomeServe vice president of contractor management and administration.
To strengthen the solution, HomeServe is committed to investing $100,000 per year to connect veterans with network contractors (contractorinfo.homeserveuse.com/veterans-program).
For many veterans separating from the military, college is not an option. Student debt has reached $1.5 trillion; over one-third of Millennials report they regret going to college; and many veterans, despite using their GI Bill benefits, had to take out loans to finish college.
Meanwhile, skilled trade apprentices can find good paying jobs and benefits while still in training, which many times costs less and is completed sooner than a college degree.
As the National Center for Education Statistics found, individuals like veterans with technical/vocational education were more likely to be employed than those with a college degree. This situation favors those soon-to-be separated servicemembers looking for their next career move.
“Veterans have the reliability, work ethic, and trustworthiness that our network contractors need in technicians,” continued Criscone. “They’re unafraid to speak up when there’s a problem, and they understand responsibility and teamwork.”
For information about the Veterans Recruitment Initiative, visit utilitysp.net/veterans.