SOURCE: Center for America

Center for America

January 13, 2016 09:00 ET

Retired General Issues Call to Action: Help Us Help You Hire Veterans

"Every Vet Counts!" National Small Business Survey: Employer Feedback on Challenges, Resources Needed to Improve Military Hiring

ATLANTA, GA--(Marketwired - January 13, 2016) - Brig. Gen. (ret.) Marianne Watson has a new mission -- to help small businesses access the services and help they need to hire more veterans, National Guard, and Reservists. 

The former Director of Manpower and Personnel, (J-1), at the National Guard Bureau, Gen. Watson is now leading a nonprofit initiative to improve veteran hiring -- and is calling on employers to participate in a first-ever internet-based national employer survey to identify the specific problems that are holding them back from hiring more military candidates. The goal of the survey is to identify industry-specific and location-specific education and networking resources that will help employers increase the number of veterans, National Guard members and Reservists who are hired.

The "Every Vet Counts!" campaign, part of the American Jobs for America's Heroes (AJAH) military hiring initiative coordinated by the nonprofit Center for America, is a national private sector effort to help employers recruit and hire veterans, Guard members and Reservists. "This is mission-critical, both for our men and women in and out of uniform and for the thousands of employers seeking trained and talented people for their workforce," said Gen. Watson.

More than 100 trade and professional association partners have participated in the AJAH initiative and many will support the "Every Vet Counts!" survey project. The goal is to get the input of a cross-section of employers in diverse geographic areas to determine how best to tailor free education and networking resources to address industry-specific issues.

Watson, who was deployed to Bagram Air Base, the largest U.S. military installation in Afghanistan, joined the AJAH campaign as vice-chair upon retirement in 2013. The highest-ranking National Guard officer overseeing personnel matters, Gen. Watson spent a great deal of time ensuring organizations like Center for America and many others understood the issues surrounding National Guard unemployment to improve private sector recruiting and hiring. "This is close to my heart, and represents one of my most important duties as a military officer," said Watson. "We must continue to evaluate and improve the ways that employers find, recruit and hire our veterans and Guard members."

National data makes clear that, despite an improvement in the overall U.S. unemployment rate, veteran unemployment rates remain higher than the national averages. Further, as hundreds of thousands of active duty military are returning to civilian life full-time, the number of veterans, Guard members and Reservists seeking full-time employment will stay above 1 million over the foreseeable future.

Small businesses (1-500 employees), which generate 70% or more of new U.S. jobs each month report the critical need to find new employees. In its May 2015 Jobs Report, the National Federation of Independent Business found that 29% of small businesses had openings they couldn't fill, a high point since April 2006, and 55% of small businesses reported hiring or trying to hire more employees. The "gap" is in how small businesses are connecting -- or not connecting successfully -- with veteran candidates.

"Based on the AJAH four-year military hiring campaign, what's required now are data-driven insights from employers on the challenges holding them back from more military hiring," said Steve Nowlan, Center for America president. "It's vital to pinpoint how their knowledge and networking needs vary by industry, geography and size of company -- and the details will reveal how to better leverage and deliver more specific knowledge and networking resources to employers."

In many cases, the services are available to help small businesses succeed in military hiring, but time and availability of staff limit the reach and effectiveness of the services. In other cases, industry-specific requirements and geographic location can make job posting and connecting with veterans a random and frustrating experience. "The key to reducing veteran unemployment going forward is making sure businesses have the specific resources they need to succeed efficiently. The CFA survey gives them the opportunity to tell us what they need in their location and in their industry," Watson added.

Understanding how industry-specific needs differ will enable CFA to develop tailored resources to address these needs. These may include webcasts, guides, networking connections, panel presentations, conference calls and answer hotlines. 

"The bottom line is that many of the efforts by government, nonprofits, and the private sector to help employers, particularly small businesses, have been too general or too time-consuming to fully meet the need -- one million veterans currently seek full-time employment. To significantly increase veteran hiring, a smart, data-informed approach must be developed to provide the tailored help employers need,'" said Watson.

"We are asking employers of all sizes and from all industries to complete a 10-minute online questionnaire -- anonymously if desired -- to identify the challenges they are having in hiring veterans," said Watson. "Hundreds of employers from all over the country are participating."

Here is the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/36PW85F_CFA

In the first question, employers should input the code -- G777. The questionnaire should be completed in the next two weeks.

CFA has been coordinating the American Jobs for America's Heroes national campaign for four years under a written agreement with the Army National Guard in Washington, DC.

Please contact Steve Nowlan, president of Center for America and coordinator for the American Jobs for American Heroes campaign, with any questions or for free help with your veteran recruiting. 201-513-0379 or SNowlan@CenterForAmerica.org. Get a head start by downloading a free copy of CFA's Best Practices Guide for Veteran Hiring at http://www.CenterForAmerica.org/bpg.html.

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