LANSING, Mich. – More Michigan employers are focusing on recruiting, training and retaining military veterans under a public-private partnership led by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, which hosted its fourth annual employer-recognition event on Tuesday.
Lt. Gov. Brian Calley joined MVAA Director James Redford in recognizing more than 250 employers during the Michigan Veteran-Friendly Employer Awards & Recognition Breakfast at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center in East Lansing.
Momentum is building with the MVAA’s Veteran-Friendly Employer Program, which started in 2013 as one of nation’s the most rigorous veteran-employment initiatives. So far this year, the program has certified 94 employers – a 59 percent increase in the number of companies and organizations committed to hiring Michigan’s veterans.
More importantly, the 253 employers in the program employ nearly 29,000 veterans and typically hire an average of about 2,000 veterans per year. With certified employers ranging from Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant with a significant presence in Michigan, to Roush, an advanced engineering and manufacturing firm based in Livonia, the program aligns with Michigan’s goal of filling high-demand career openings in fields such as health care, robotics and information technology.
“The Veteran-Friendly Employer Certification Program,” Calley said, “is a unique example of a partnership between state government and the private sector that is succeeding in helping fill Michigan’s talent shortage with some of our most skilled, hard-working and dependable workers – veterans.”
Through the program, employers are certified to Bronze, Silver or Gold status depending on their commitment to recruiting, training and retaining veterans. Bronze-Level Employers must commit to hiring a specific number of veterans, among other requirements, while Silver-Level Employers must meet all Bronze-Level requirements and implement a certain number of veteran-friendly programs such as on-the-job training. Gold-Level Employers must meet all Bronze and Silver requirements and show that they retain 75 percent of their veterans over a 12-month period, among other requirements.
Nine employers are certified to Gold status, which represents less than 4 percent of the total program participants. New this year as a Gold-Level Employer is Prestige Engineering, which joins Consumers Energy, DTE Energy, General Motors, Michigan Department of Transportation, Michigan State Police, Quicken Loans, Roush and Whirlpool Corp. in the exclusive category.
Seven employers achieved Silver status this year – Comerica, DSDT Detroit School of Digital Technology, Eisenhower Center, Holland Inc., Peckham Inc., SpartanNash and Unified Business Technologies – bringing to 23 the list of Silver-Level Employers.
The 221 Bronze-Level Employers include hospitals, colleges, automotive suppliers and insurance companies, and range geographically from Detroit to Grand Rapids, and from Traverse City to Marquette.
This year’s Rising Star Award winner is Consumers Energy, a Gold-Level Employer. The Jackson-based public utility was recognized for novel approaches to veteran recruiting and hiring, including implementing senior leader training for veteran mental health issues and awareness; making Veterans Day a paid holiday; and dedicating a Talent Acquisition Team to translate military experiences to company roles.
Redford said that type of commitment to veterans exemplifies the Veteran-Friendly Employer Program.
“These employers recognize the benefit and value of hiring and retaining veterans,” said Redford, who served in the Navy for 28 years. “They’re letting our patriots know that they are serious about bridging the gap between civilian and military employment and taking the time to understand their language and way of life. By doing so, they’re attracting some of the best talent the military has to offer.”