Tech Jobs For Vets: Mobilizing The Movement - InformationWeek
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5/30/2016
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Tech Jobs For Vets: Mobilizing The Movement

Earlier this month, Congress heard proposals to increase tech training and jobs for vets, transitioning service members, and military spouses.

10 Best US Cities For Tech Jobs In 2016
10 Best US Cities For Tech Jobs In 2016
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Veterans urged a Congressional economic opportunity subcommittee of the House Veterans Affairs earlier this month to assist veterans in landing innovative careers in technology fields through policy changes.

That call at a May 17 hearing may go even further in boosting the results of the Joining Forces initiative, a five-year-old program launched by First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden's wife Jill Biden. Earlier this month, Joining Forces announced that 40 companies pledged to hire or train more than 110,000 veterans and military spouses over the next five years.

While unemployment among veterans is on the decline and is now below the national average, it was previously more than 12% in 2011, according to Joining Forces. But more can be done, according to veterans and tech companies.

During the House hearing, Veterans in Tech: Innovative Careers for All Generations of Veterans, one speaker, Bernard Bergan, a technical account manager at Microsoft and a former member of the Army, called on Congress to pass legislation that would support the use of veteran programs, such as the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA), either on or off military bases.

As an example, Bergan noted that although technical training programs are offered for free to vets by some private employers, it can be difficult to gain the approval from a commanding officer to allow people on active duty to spend weeks away from military obligations in order to get the technical training they need to ease the transition out of the service and into the public sector.

"Giving up a body is a difficult decision" Bergan said during the hearing, noting he was fortunate, however, to have a commanding officer to allow him to train in the MSSA program. "He was willing to lose 22 of his best servicemen ... [T]he exit out of the military was well planned, just as our entrance into the military was."

(Image: skeeze via Pixabay)

(Image: skeeze via Pixabay)

MSSA is an 18-week program to train active duty military members in IT skills at bases throughout the US. Bergan recommended the Department of Defense encourage senior leaders to support this training for those who are transitioning out of the service.

Brian Huseman, vice president of public policy at Amazon, made a similar request at the hearing. He advocated active-duty military members be trained in IT before they leave the service in targeted in-demand areas like cloud computing. The online retailing giant, which operates its Amazon Warriors program, announced this month, says it plans to offer more than $7 million in AWS training to "10,000 service members, transitioning veterans, and military spouses."

In addressing the subcommittee hearing, Brad Wenstrup, House subcommittee and chairman, said, "We need to figure out how to connect these (veterans) to companies, as well as get them into the necessary training programs to cover any skills gaps that may exist before they enter the tech field. There is a great potential between our nation's veterans and tech companies."

[See 10 Cloud Jobs in Highest Demand Now.]

That sentiment was also shared by Joseph Kernan, senior vice president of corporate development and marketing for SAP National Security Services and a retired US Navy vice admiral. Kernan, who spoke at the hearing as chairman of NS2 Serves, an independent nonprofit established by SAP National Security Services, said information technology is ideally suited for veterans, regardless of the occupation they were trained for in the military.

He noted there are certain skills developed in the military that are transferable to tech positions, such as accountability for one's actions, commitment to the task at hand, and responsibility. But he noted the transition is not an easy path when leaving the military.

"Transitioning to the civilian workforce is often daunting, particularly for young enlisted service members," Kernan said during the hearing. "They don't want a hand out, but rather an opportunity for a fresh start in their post military lives."

Dawn Kawamoto is an Associate Editor for Dark Reading, where she covers cybersecurity news and trends. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's ... View Full Bio

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tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
7/2/2016 | 5:12:52 PM
Re: Skills for the industry?
There are many objectives in the military, not just to destroy and kill. Many medical advances have come from military experience, many consumer products are the result of military research, even diplomacy has come through the military. It is a far more complex organization than just a bunch of thugs with nuclear arms.

You do not get ahead in the military just by being a yes-man. While there are tried and true ways of doing things in any successful organization, the military also values innovation. Read up on some of our famous soldiers and see how they changed the course of history based on their innovative thinking. Most of the top generals and admirals have PhD's and MBA's and this level of education extends down to colonels and starts at Major.

The enilisted personnel have specific jobs to do. Some are mechanics, some are IT, others are medical technicians, others are logistics. These jobs also translate to the civilian sector. There are opportunities for them as well and they can make an excellent income.

But you cannot make "the profession of soldier to be like any other profession". There has to be order, there has to be discipline and many other qualities that make it completely different from a regular job.
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
6/4/2016 | 9:15:55 AM
Re: Skills for the industry?
Well, the main objective of any military is to destroy and kill. There are only a few cases where other goals are on the forefront, such as for several units of the Coast Guard. A 20 year career anywhere is impressive, but in the military you ruffle the least feathers when blindly following orders and doing as told. There is little room to be creative and bring up alternative ideas contrary to what the leaders decide. Yes, I bet there are exceptions, but the rigid command structure is one of the key issues that make transitioning to a life outside of the military difficult. And learning skills and going to school? Sure, there are opportunities for that in the military, but not necessarily the ones one is interested in. If the commanders find that they need more bodies in that area they will move bodies into that area, no matter if you like it or not. I know from folks who enlisted that they were promised this and that, but ended up in positions that neither matched their aptitude nor interest.

The only way to change that is making the profession of soldier to be like any other profession. The same rights and protections need to apply, including qutting when deemed necessary by the employee. I am convinced that there are still plenty of people interested, but it would put a different spin on a lot of things military making it a much better opportunity for those who do enlist. Plus, it will provide commanders a workforce that really wants to be there and like what they are doing. Any promises would be subject to written contracts.

Even with that change it still leaves the fact that having skills and certifications from the military does not equate to certifications accepted by the states. That whole system needs to be fixed so that obtaining a cert or license in one state or the military allows for performing that kind of work nationwide. That will be a huge benefit in especially medical and infrastructure related fields.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
6/2/2016 | 10:16:01 AM
Re: Future Focus
The Jetsons! Great cartoon. Interesting to see some of the techology in that show and what is in use today. Certainly not the CRT displays but you can have two way video conversations but on portable devices and flat screens! The "Car-Planes" that fold into a suitcase are another story though! I want one of those!
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
6/2/2016 | 9:32:58 AM
Re: Skills for the industry?
Military recruiters are interested in enlisting young people for the many jobs in the enlisted ranks. Some of these jobs might not translate to a civilian career. Many do and like anything else requires research on the part of the applicant. But there is nothing wrong with having a 20 year career in the military where you are promoted based on skills and achievement whilst serving your country. You also get many benefits and if you do make the 20 years, you get a pension.

Like in life, you can't always get what you want but the military is a great place to learn a lot of skills. Even if you are cashiered out after 5 years, there is time to go to school and pursue another career. But i know plenty of vets in IT who are excellent workers whether it is as a technician, analyst or Project Manager.
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
6/2/2016 | 8:03:07 AM
Skills for the industry?
I heard so many military recuiters and active military tell me that the military is great place to learn all the top notch skills that will be valuable in the industry later on. Is that just a big fat lie? If vets are that highly skilled they should have no problem whatsoever finding tech jobs. Apparently, reality is different than the utopian alternative reality the military fans draw up. Folks need to inform themselves before signing up for service. Once done and still alive you have to start from scratch, you are back to zero...unless Congress and the state administrations act and accept military education as equivalent in the real world. Fact is, just because someone learned to be an electrician in the military she/he cannot work as an electrician in the industry. That requires certifications that vary by state and only few states accept each others certifications (as if a panel is wired up that differently in Ohio compared to Rhode Island). Same applies for many other professions including all those in the medical field. Leaves those jobs that are not requiring any certifications or degrees. Those are typically subject to many other competitors for the same position.

For anyone thinking about signing up for military service, don't fall for all the rosy promises recruiters and others make. Most of it is not true. There are also plenty of other means to hep your country, the world, and society in general than driving tanks or flying drones.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
6/1/2016 | 3:17:51 AM
Re: Future Focus
Impactnow, yes, Rosie from the Jetsons! :) I'd love that, too. Last year, I met a robot at a conference (and We were talking) that might be able to do all what you say. This robot's main job was as customer service in retail. In Europe, cashiers are being replaced by self-service machines. You scan your items, pay, go. I have used these in several countries already. Re-stocking could be done by robots in supermarkets soon as well. Then you have chef Watson from which I have tried a couple of dishes. :) There is so much going on that it's impossible to keep track of everything. But, robots and AI are already here. -Susan
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Author
5/31/2016 | 10:25:27 PM
Re: Future Focus
Susan oh yes I know of iRobot vacuums and in our airports all feature ordering food on iPads. There is however no full service robots to clean my house--I would buy them tomorrow! I also have never seen a robotic landscaper that pulls weeds! The self-service and somewhat automated are becoming a reality but I still haven't seen a full service robot for consumers. I have witnessed the robots in factories but I still want Rosie from the Jetsons!
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
5/31/2016 | 1:34:23 PM
Re: Future Focus
Impactnow, would you be surprised if I tell you that some of those jobs you mention are done by robots in some places already? There are complete restaurants that function with iPads and robots. There are robots in hotels, and there are several robots that you can have at home for cleaning. -Susan
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Author
5/31/2016 | 12:31:41 PM
Future Focus
Broadway the reality is that we still need people in manual labor jobs we need people to cut our hair, do our nails, fix our cars, clean our homes, fix our computers, serve our food, fix our roof, inspect our bags. All of these jobs will still need to exist while they may not be high paying careers they still fulfill a need for both parties. Not every individual wants to go to college or is interested in jobs that require a degree, as a society I think we need to respect this choice. Robots will eliminate some rote jobs and already have taken some of these jobs but there are still many out there for those that want that type of job.
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