Higher education and employment preparation play a key role in connecting military veterans to good jobs, but only when veteran advocates work together to make it happen.
That’s the theme of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency’s second annual National Veteran Workforce Development Conference Aug. 14-16 in Detroit: “Building bridges between education and veteran employment.”
More than 200,000 veterans make the transition from military to civilian life each year, but too often there is a disconnect in linking them with post-secondary education and career opportunities. This conference provides a unique platform for leading employers, educators, military transition staffers and talent attraction professionals from Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago and elsewhere across the country to share best practices and help veterans successfully re-enter the workforce.
In Michigan, many employers are struggling to find skilled workers. The state has set an ambitious goal of having 60 percent of residents complete a post-secondary degree or certificate by 2030, up from 44 percent. Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, a Detroit native, will speak at the conference.
“Our veterans represent some of our best and brightest, having built skills and demonstrated character through their service to our nation,” said Zaneta Adams, Director of the MVAA, which supports Michigan’s nearly 600,000 veterans. “This conference, by highlighting and sharing best practices in education and employment, will ultimately open up more career opportunities for veterans and provide employers with some of the best talent in the marketplace.”
One conference session focuses on how higher education institutions can leverage military learning to advance the academic progress of student veterans and act as a pivot-point to connect veterans to Veteran Service Organizations, federal and state agencies and employers.
Other sessions focus on the importance of the professional trades as a rewarding career for veterans and the value of hiring National Guard and Reserve members. To that end, the MVAA and its parent department, the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), are working to connect National Guard and Reserve members to careers that fit their education and military occupational qualifications.
“We are honored to host the National Veterans Workforce Development Conference for a second year in Detroit," said Maj. Gen. Paul D. Rogers, Adjutant General of the Michigan Army and Air National Guard and Director of the DMVA. "The 10,500 soldiers and airmen who serve in our Michigan National Guard will benefit from the connections we form today with veteran-friendly employers and educators. The Michigan National Guard also benefits when our service members have a civilian career that complements their military service. Building relationships with these skilled professionals will ensure a steady stream of qualified individuals joining our ranks while enhancing our readiness and capabilities.”
The conference includes other employment topics and speakers as well, including sessions on PTSD in the workplace, a keynote speech by former POW Christopher Stone, a retired Army officer turned attorney, and much more.