From my Linked in Posting:
Veterans Employment – Realities and the underlying causes.
There has been a lot of talk about the issues our soldiers are experiencing when they leave their service obligations and reenter the workforce. There also has been a great deal of ideas and well intended initiatives that have been initiated to help our veterans find meaningful and rewarding careers outside of the Department of Defense.
However, we are collectively getting this all wrong. We need to take a look at the problem we are trying to solve and address the root causes, not just treat the symptoms. The root cause been in place since I joined the Army in 1981 and what I experienced when I transitioned out in 1991 and what I see my children facing now as they transition out of the Military. Not to mention, experiencing my fathers transition out of the military in the 70s. While the specific challenges have evolved over time, they remain fundamental and worsening.
The question I pose; Is do we have a veteran transition problem or do we have a US employment problem that is impacting transitioning veterans? I believe it is the later and here are the aggravating factors;
Lets look at few of the existing problems facing transitioning veterans today. There will always be exceptions to these, but generally they are the realities of the past, present and future jobs market and that is where I want to focus the discussion. The term university is inclusive of all post high-school education;
- Talent supply and demand is not functional in the United States. Universities are over producing and employers are seeking utopian candidates that rarely exist.
- Corporations do not want to hire then train candidates and have expectation that the university or others to handle the training, including apprenticeships.
- Universities are trying to figure out how to reform a system designed and conceived for a mid-19th century world. (Sir Ken Robinson – Changing Education Paradigms)
- Universities are not accountable for employment, but are marketing that you need a degree for successful employment.
- Corporations arbitrarily require college degree’s for jobs that do not require them, they also do not set expectations for universities to deliver on.
- The Universities focus on revenue generation has created another crisis as well as expanded the lending/investment business for the United States; Introducing the student debt crisis and the student loan business, Sallie Mae and SLABS (Student Loans Asset-Backed Securities). Students end up with “near-permanent debt to get a college degree.” (Mark Gongloff, Huffington Post)
- Between the job seeker and employment exists a multi-billion dollar a year recruitment services industry, with growing revenues. (Josh Bersin, Forbes)
- Technology advances further confuses the job seeker, with job boards under performing, social recruiting not well understood and both approaches demand hidden and hard costs to participate.
- The Department of Defense has a core function and they execute it with mastery and effectiveness, it recruits, trains and transitions warriors non-stop, nothing new here. While I believe there exists a sacred responsibility owed to those who have served honorably, fixing the US jobs market is not theirs to fix. However, they do have a responsibility to ensure that they are providing the pathways for success and not just dropping veterans off outside the gate or punting the ball to non-profits, universities or staffing companies.
Who benefits from GI-Bill funding? Apollo, ITT, EDMC, Devry, CareerEd, Strayer, etc.. to name a few who are making up to 75%+ of their profits from the GI. From https://beta.cironline.org/: Senate investigators found that eight of the top 10 recipients of GI Bill funds were for-profit colleges. In addition, the report said, “the amount of taxpayer dollars paying for veterans to attend for-profit colleges meanwhile has skyrocketed from $640 million in the 2009-10 school year to $1.7 billion last year.” Check out the data here: http://www.harkin.senate.gov/documents/pdf/4ecbffe07af8e.pdf
While I will be first to point out that not everyone who leaves the military is ready to take on a different career then what they had in the military, but to assume everyone leaving the military wants to do exactly what they did in the military is yet another gross misconception that further exacerbates the situation. Even to assume that you can summarize service by a MOS/AFSC/Military Job Title, you’re missing a great deal of context that is not contained in a job code. You have to look at what I refer to as Kim’s Triangle: Aptitude + Education + Experience. You need to be strong in at least two of these to deliver value to the business.
Given the above examples, I would like to hear from you concerning what aspect of the troubled US Jobs market you feel are unique to veterans?
I want to fix the US Jobs market and do so by modernizing it and in creating a model from which we can determine more accurate supply and demand measurements that we can use to guide our children towards. Fixing this for Veterans gives us the ability to fix this for High-School students as then we can provide another pathway to success. In the end, the value measurement of a university diploma needs to be aligned to actual employment in the degree field earned and not life-time earning potential, sorry you cannot take credit for what you did not earn.
What veterans need today is simple: Meaningful employment. Corporations that get this right will provide not only the job opportunity, but the training to veterans to excel in the jobs they are creating and for that they will benefit their bottom lines. Veterans have proven that they can rise to any challenge as well as any sacrifice, today they need opportunity to demonstrate this.
As a veteran, how was your transition, what helped or hindered?
As a corporate leader, what will you do to change this?
The question is what role will you play in how history will be written?