Jobs for Veterans Program Makes Progress

Last July, MAGNET launched a unique pilot project to help connect returning U.S. veterans with manufacturing jobs in Northeast Ohio.

“There are many jobs at manufacturing companies in Northeast Ohio that are still unfilled even with today’s high unemployment rate,” noted MAGNET President and CEO Dan Berry at the time. “These unfilled jobs typically require technical skills and competencies not widely found in the general unemployed population. Our belief is that many returning veterans have some of the core technical skills that can meet the needs of manufacturers in the region.”

MAGNET’s goal was to identify, train and match returning veterans with existing jobs at area manufacturing companies that are unfilled due to a lack of appropriately skilled applicants. To accomplish this, MAGNET partnered with the Veterans’ Services group of the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services (ODJFS). Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration MAGNET and ODJFS began the pilot project with two well-attended informational sessions for manufacturers on July 19 and July 28, 2011.

Becky Kemp, MAGNET Senior Workforce Development Consultant, reports that eight months later, 57 veterans have undergone the skills testing process to determine their job skills and how the skills match the needs of manufacturers in the private sector. Twenty veterans landed serious job interviews and nine are already working at new manufacturing jobs.

In March 2012, MAGNET and ODJFS sponsored two job fairs for veterans, one in Akron and one in Canton, at which more than 30 manufact’urers participated.

“We are providing a needed link between two stakeholders,” observes Kemp. “One is the veterans’ representatives like the ODJFS Veterans’ Services group, and the other is our regional employer networks. Our process has demonstrated that this works. Manufacturers are recognizing the value of skilled returning veterans. And the state’s veterans’ representatives are also learning how valueable the asssessment process is as an aide to job placement.”

Kemp credits MAGNET co-workers Linda Barita and Kristin Hyla for their assistance fielding calls from veterans and assisting with the testing and referrals to employers.

Coming up this April: MAGNET and Tri-C are developing specific classes that will assist those veterans who identify a need to upgrade some of their skills for the modern manufacturing environment.

In the meantime, programs like Jobs for Veterans have been very much in the news, with the Obama Administration, Senator Sherrod Brown and others drawing public attention to the potential for veterans to help alleviate the much-discussed workforce talent needs of American manufacturers. Here’s a quick roundup of the latest news coverage:

  • Veteran unemployment is falling as employers realize what a soldier can do, by Robert L. Smith, Cleveland Plain Dealer, February 24, 2012
    Cleveland—In recent weeks, area manufacturers have peppered veteran affairs offices and job training centers with requests for veteran job candidates, preferably people fresh from the fight in Iraq or Afghanistan. Cuyahoga County recently welcomed a veteran job specialist — becoming the first county in Ohio to do so — and some major employers are instructing hiring managers to get a better understanding of army life.
  • GE to hire 5,000 veterans over next 5 years, AP via Cleveland Plain Dealer, February 13, 2012
    Washington—GE said Monday that its “Hiring Our Heroes” partnership will help match veterans with jobs. The company, whose products range from jet engines to light bulbs, will also team with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to sponsor 400 veterans’ job fairs this year.
  • Companies help veterans find jobs, by Cristin Severance, Ohio News Network TV, January 18, 2012
    Lakewood, Ohio—”We’ve been very successful hiring veterans, about 10 percent of our work team in Ohio is veterans. We find great skills with veterans, great leadership, great discipline,” said CEO of GrafTech Craig Schular.
  • Now hiring veterans; GrafTech has 45 openings in Lakewood and Parma, by Colleen O’Neill, Newsradio WTAM 1100, January 18, 2012
    Lakewood, Ohio—Senator Sherrod Brown visited the Lakewood location Wednesday morning to thank the company and highlight the “Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011.” It’s a new law he cosponsored that provides tax credits to companies that hire unemployed veterans.

If your company is looking to connect with mature, experienced, skilled workers, contact Linda Barita, (216) 391-7766, for information on how to participate in MAGNET’s Jobs for Veterans Program.

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Posted by MAGNET Ohio in Veterans, Workforce-Development

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