It’s no secret that the trucking industry is experiencing a need for qualified drivers. Many carriers have made a commitment to hire more veterans for both driving and managerial positions. However, the unemployment rate for veterans continues to be an area of concern for both employers and the government.
Did you know there were over 500,000 unemployed veterans as of December 2014 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics? They also reported that 1.5 million veterans were only employed in part time positions.
Why can’t the transportation industry embrace, attract, and retain these unemployed and underemployed veterans? The Department of Transportation is focused on finding the answer and recently hosted a “Joining Forces Veterans Employment Forum” at the White House. Industry representatives from carriers, associations, and the federal government came together to identify challenges and share best practices for overcoming this problem.
Women In Trucking (WIT) Association President Ellen Voie was invited to participate, along with WIT board member Stanley Hampton, Vice President of Corporate Driver Personnel of J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc. Voie and Hampton were asked to share best practices to attract, retain, recruit, and hire veterans.
While J.B. Hunt has already shown a commitment to hiring veterans, Hampton arrived with an open mind and an interest in expanding their commitment. According to J.B. Hunt’s website, they already have nearly twenty percent of their driving force identified as veterans. They ranked number seven in G. I. Job’s Top 100 Military Friendly Employers List and are named as an Employer in Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR.)
Women In Trucking Association embraces diversity and has many former military personnel as members, but Voie realized there is more the association can do to promote greater diversity for our veterans as well.
If you are an employer and you want to hire more veterans, there are many resources available for you that the federal government wants you to be aware of. Here are a few we learned about at the White House event.
First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden have launched “Joining Forces,” which is a national program to support our military members and their families through initiatives to “inspire, educate, and spark action from all sectors of society.” Steve Parker, Executive Director of the organization, welcomed the attendees at the event.
The initiative has addressed employment by launching the Veterans Employment Center and created public-private partnerships through the Military Spouse Employment Partnership. In addition, they are addressing education and homelessness issues for veterans.
The event focused on how the private sector can partner with government resources to find partnerships in hiring and promoting our veteran workforce.
If you are a carrier and are looking to hire veterans, visit www.dol.gov/vets/aha. This site offers a step-by-step toolkit for employers. You can design a strategy for hiring veterans, prepare your workplace and learn how to recruit former military personnel. Start with this resource and inform your hiring department about the site.
You can post job openings at www.ebenefits.va.gov/jobs. This website is a service of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. You can search veterans’ profiles and post jobs and find upcoming veteran job fairs. There is even a link to better understand the military experience.
The American Job Center network has a website for employers looking for employees in their area. Check out www.servicelocator.org and click on Career One Stop (www.careeronestop.org) to obtain a toolkit for recruiting and hiring qualified candidates. There are links on this site for tax credits and worker training resources.
One of the new initiatives introduced at the meeting was the Department of Defense SkillBridge resource. Started in 2014 to allow returning service members to participate in job training for up to six months BEFORE their service obligation is complete. This means you can bring active duty service members into your facility while they are still employed by the United States Government. Currently the military installations participating are limited, check out www.dodskillbridge.com for locations near you.
While the attendees at the White House meeting worked on identifying industry challenges, they also offered best practices. One of the most practical pieces of advice offered that day was to hire a former military recruiter for your driver-recruiting program. They understand, more than anyone, what their veteran colleagues want and need in an employer. Simple, but powerful.
Hiring a veteran is the right thing to do. Let’s do it right.