The Disconnect between Military & Civilian Skills Acceptance – A Way Forward
The transition from military service to civilian life can be both exciting and challenging for veterans. While their military experience equips them with valuable skills, there is often a disconnect between the acceptance of these skills in the civilian job market. This discrepancy poses a significant hurdle for veterans seeking employment in various industries, including but not limited to commercial driving, mechanical engineering, the medical field, etc.
In this blog, we will explore factual evidence and statistics that highlight the existing gap between military and civilian skills acceptance and expose the need for broader recognition of military skills, drawing upon the successful example set by the Nuclear Energy Institute’s veteran program.
The purpose of this blog is to advocate for a more comprehensive approach to accepting and utilizing the skills veterans bring to the table, promoting inclusivity, efficiency, and mutual benefit for both veterans and civilian industries.
The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) has taken a commendable step towards bridging the gap between military and civilian skills acceptance. Their veteran program allows veterans to enter the commercial nuclear industry without the need for costly commercial accreditations. By recognizing the transferable skills gained during military service, the NEI has created a pathway for veterans to utilize their knowledge and experience effectively. This program serves as a beacon of success and highlights the potential for similar initiatives in other industries.
According to the NEI, the commercial nuclear industry has historically provided a pathway to employment for those who have served, specifically veterans of the U.S. Navy. Veterans.
The Value of Military Skills
Military training instills discipline, leadership, adaptability, and technical expertise in service members. These skills are not only valuable within the military context but also have significant applications in civilian industries. For example, veterans possess a strong work ethic, an ability to perform under pressure, and a commitment to teamwork—all of which are highly sought-after qualities in the workforce. But this is an almost obvious statement that everyone in the industry is well aware of. So what is the ‘not-so-common’ concern?
According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2019, nearly half of post-9/11 veterans in the United States felt that their military skills were not fully utilized in their civilian jobs. This indicates a significant gap between the skills acquired during military service and their recognition in the civilian workforce. Veterans often excel in areas such as logistics, information technology, project management, and emergency response due to the skills developed during their military service.
The underutilization of military skills may be caused by the different languages and terminology the military has. This may pose a challenge when veterans try to communicate their skills and experiences to civilian employers. The American Corporate Partners (ACP), a non-profit organization that assists veterans in their transition, states that the discrepancy in language often leads to a misalignment between veterans’ capabilities and the job descriptions provided by employers.
Another report by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) revealed that one of the key barriers faced by veterans during the transition is the lack of understanding and awareness among employers regarding the transferability of military skills. Many employers are unaware of how military skills can translate into valuable assets in civilian job roles, which in turn are undervaluing the military skills that almost all veterans retain.
During an interview with Jonathan Shaffer, CSP, Re:Build Optimation’s Safety Director, took a firm stand that this silent matter was indeed a familiar, yet real problem that requires more legislative action.
“I was in an infantry platoon. My two combat medics were 19 years old. They could do small surgeries … They could do tracheotomies.… They were trained to do that. How is it that they can’t get a paramedic’s license, or just get certified based on their military training? They should at least give them the EMT (Emergency Medical Technician certification).”
The truth is that many people can see this problem, but who do we say the right things to, to make this vital quandary go away?
Will we see a day in the short future that allows anyone with military experience, an official proof of experience? A traversing bridge to bring more lucrative and efficient processes, not only for the benefits of veterans but also the private and public sectors across the industry?
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that this barrier often prevents veterans from gaining employment in fields where their military skills could be directly applicable.
The Case for Commercial Driver License (CDL) Acceptance
One industry that would greatly benefit from recognizing military skills is the commercial driving sector. Veterans often possess extensive experience, operating various military vehicles and equipment, which translates well to commercial driving. However, the current requirements for obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) often demand redundant training for veterans who are already competent drivers.
“I’m very familiar with that problem we have… Another one of our journey workers, a pipefitter, was a wheeled vehicle mechanic and did a whole tour in Afghanistan. He fixed vehicles, drove big, heavy vehicles, and has a master driver’s license from the military, which means that he drove so many thousand miles and did it safely. So why is it when he gets out and gets back home he has to go through ALL the training for CDL?” said Jonathan.
Jonathan believes that experienced veterans with an honorable discharge should be given a better opportunity in bridging their skills from the military to a commercial environment without facing setbacks and blowing up their GI Bill to facilitate a full accreditation process that may be redundant.
By implementing a streamlined process that recognizes and credits military driving experience, veterans can transition seamlessly into civilian driving roles, saving time and resources, and minimizing unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles.
Unlocking Potential in Mechanical Engineering
Mechanical engineering is another field where veterans’ skills and experiences can be effectively utilized. Military personnel often operate and maintain complex machinery and equipment, gaining hands-on experience that directly applies to mechanical engineering. However, the lack of recognition and accreditation of these skills poses a barrier to entry for veterans seeking employment in this industry.
By establishing credentialing programs that acknowledge the military experience and provide a clear pathway to obtaining necessary qualifications, veterans can seamlessly transition into mechanical engineering roles, filling the existing skills gap and contributing to the industry’s growth.
Recognizing military skills benefits veterans and promotes a more inclusive and diverse workforce. Veterans bring unique perspectives, problem-solving abilities, and resilience to civilian industries. Embracing these qualities can foster a positive work environment and drive innovation. Additionally, hiring veterans demonstrates a company’s commitment to supporting those who have served their country, enhancing its reputation and corporate social responsibility.
Addressing Concerns and Ensuring Safety
One concern often raised regarding the acceptance of military skills in civilian industries is the issue of safety. Critics argue that military training does not necessarily align with civilian safety standards. However, this concern can be addressed through comprehensive evaluation processes and targeted training programs. Recognizing military skills does not imply compromising safety standards but rather integrating the skills gained in military service into relevant civilian contexts while ensuring adherence to industry-specific safety protocols.
To bridge the disconnect between military and civilian skills acceptance, a collaboration between the military, industry associations, and regulatory bodies is vital. By working together, these stakeholders can establish standardized accreditation & processes that appropriately recognize military skills. Moreover, public-private partnerships can facilitate smoother transitions for veterans by offering training programs, mentorship opportunities, and financial support for necessary accreditations.
Employers who recognize and value military skills benefit from hiring veterans. According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), veterans bring diverse perspectives, a strong work ethic, and the ability to perform under pressure. Additionally, SHRM reports that veterans tend to stay longer with their employers and have lower turnover rates, resulting in cost savings for companies.
The current disconnect between military and civilian skills acceptance poses a significant obstacle for veterans seeking employment in various industries. However, the successful implementation of the Nuclear Energy Institute’s veteran program in the commercial nuclear sector demonstrates the potential for change.
Various legislation and initiatives have been introduced to bridge the gap between military and civilian skills acceptance. The Veterans Skills to Jobs Act, for example, aims to streamline the process of translating military skills into civilian credentials. Additionally, organizations like Hiring Our Heroes and American Jobs for America’s Heroes offer resources and support to veterans and employers, promoting the recognition and utilization of military skills.
Additionally, a ‘Skills Bridge’ program has recently been launched by Re:Build Optimation where veterans that are exiting the military can join the program six months before they officially get out of the military and join Re:Build Optimation while still getting paid by Uncle Sam. This program is for the best of the best, with an approval requirement from their chain of command to pursue their passion. While being active on duty, they will be endeavoring the Skills Bridge program as a co-op where the Re:Build Optimation facilitates an unpaid apprenticeship during the Skills Bridge period.
Today, let us take a moment to express heartfelt appreciation for the brave men and women who have served in the military. Our veterans have made immense sacrifices to protect our freedom, often facing adversity and putting their lives on the line in the process. Their commitment, courage, and unwavering dedication to our nation deserve our utmost respect and gratitude.
As we honor and express our gratitude to our veterans, it is crucial that we not only acknowledge their service but also recognize and utilize the valuable skills they bring to the table. The transferable skills gained through military service are not limited to the battlefield but extend far beyond, providing a wealth of untapped potential that can greatly benefit civilian industries.
These veterans possess a unique set of skills, forged in the crucible of military life. They have learned the importance of discipline, adaptability, and working as a cohesive team to overcome challenges.
Yet, there exists a disconnect between military and civilian skills acceptance, preventing veterans from seamlessly transitioning into civilian careers. This disparity undermines the immense talent and experience that veterans possess, and it is time for us to change that.
Recognizing and utilizing the transferable skills from the military in civilian industries is not just a moral obligation; it is a strategic imperative. Their qualities can propel our industries forward and contribute to the growth and success of our nation as a whole. By providing veterans with meaningful employment opportunities, we honor their service and unlock their full potential as valuable contributors to our society. By advocating for a more comprehensive approach to accepting and utilizing military skills, we can bridge the gap and create a more supportive and prosperous environment for both veterans and civilian industries.
To achieve this, employers must take the initiative to understand the value of military experience and provide pathways for veterans to seamlessly transition into civilian careers. We need to establish clearer credentialing processes that recognize and credit the skills acquired during military service. Additionally, educational institutions and training programs should offer tailored pathways that bridge the gap between military and civilian qualifications.
Let us strive to create a society that fully appreciates and harnesses the talents of our veterans. By recognizing and utilizing their transferable skills, we demonstrate our gratitude in action and build a more inclusive, resilient, and prosperous future for all.
It is time to unlock the potential of our veterans, tapping into their wealth of experience and dedication. Together, we can bridge the gap and create a society that not only honors our veterans but also embraces their skills and talents for the betterment of us all.
If you are interested in the Skills Bridge program with Re:Build Optimation, contact us by filling out the form below.
Form located in the contact us page