On November 11th we celebrated the 21.8 million veterans living in the United States with department store sales, free coffees, parades and moments of silence. But it’s important that we ask ourselves, how are we supporting and celebrating veterans the other 364 days a year?
With a US Veteran unemployment rate higher than the national average by several percentage points, we must continue to work for equal opportunities for our servicemen and women. There are a host of reasons for this gap — but we must ask, given that our veterans have completed elite training and development, why do unemployment numbers remain so high and what can we do to help?
A recent study from CompTIA found that 27% of active duty military members anticipated it might be difficult to transition their skills to civilian occupations. That number jumped to 47% when you asked veterans who had made the transition if they had difficulty in the switch. The Gallup Wellbeing Index in 2013 indicated that young men in particular struggle after discharge from the military.
Clearly easing this transition point remains essential. Groups like the Four Block Foundation are chipping away at this problem. Their education program, available through in-person 8-week seminars and free online on Udemy, is designed to give veterans the essential tools needed to jumpstart civilian careers. The goal of the course is to empower veterans to obtain competitive internships and full-time positions that match their interests, attributes and strengths.
Once vets have found employment, there exists the question of how to move ahead and gain new skills. A 2013 report from the Veterans Administration highlighted the need for employers who recruit veterans to devote resources to employee retention through ongoing development and support. The best practices included mentorship, team-building, and continuous learning opportunities.
In order to support our veterans in their pursuit of a diverse range of career goals, Udemy will provide money and a discount for any vet or active-duty service member who wants to take online courses. We hope that this program is a small part of a greater whole, moving towards a veteran unemployment rate dramatically below the national average.