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Corporate Social Responsibility

This blog was originally posted on the Huffington Post.

This week I had the privilege of attending an event at the White House where the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, and John Chambers, Chairman and CEO of Cisco, unveiled a new program to give returning military service members a fast track to the training and certifications needed for high-demand IT jobs.

Through the IT Training and Certification Program, transitioning military personnel with prior IT experience are being given access to IT training, certification, and career-matching opportunities to help fast-track their job search. Once selected through the Joining Forces Initiative, service members are invited to register on the U.S. IT Pipeline, a cloud-based talent exchange platform designed by Futures, Inc., with support from Cisco. Service members can explore careers, take a quick assessment, and choose from a selection of IT certifications, such as Cisco CCNA, most aligned to their interests. After completing the coursework and passing the certification exam provided by select IT training and exam partners, the Pipeline will then match their military experience and qualifications to qualifying high-demand, civilian IT job postings.

The Pipeline’s unique approach matches all 9,200 military service roles (MOC/MOS) to all 950 U.S. Department of Labor career tracks; it then matches more than 500 job types within those careers to over 3,500 skills and certifications. The power of this technology was recently tested at a series of U.S. Army base hiring events. Of those veterans who completed the pre-matching profile, half received a job offer within 48 hours. Veterans who’ve already returned home can experience this matching technology through the Hero2Hired or IAVA Career Pathfinder websites.

In addition, as part of those pilot Army hiring events, service members were able to use the Pipeline’s résumé-builder tool to translate their military experience and interests into a civilian, employer-friendly résumé. Cisco also donated Cisco WebEx videoconferencing technology to facilitate interviews between companies nationwide and veterans at the U.S. Army bases.

Hiring veterans is a win not just for veterans, but for employers, as well. When I talk to people at Cisco who have hired veterans, they use the same words to describe them: dedicated, motivated, leaders, go-getters. I’ve been told that veterans can prioritize demands, work well under pressure, meet deadlines, work autonomously, and be creative and energetic about accomplishing their goals. What company doesn’t want employees with these traits?

The challenge for veterans is that their skills and experience are often “lost in translation” when applying for civilian jobs. It’s time we helped bridge that gap and open new doors of opportunity for the men and women who have served our country. This program highlights the importance of government and business working together to help military personnel transition into civilian careers upon returning home.

Private sector companies can do their part, too. Educating their employee recruiters and hiring managers on the unique skills that veterans have to offer and holding hiring events, whether live or virtual, should be part of every company today — a time when hundreds of thousands of military personnel are returning home and looking for challenging work.

Here in the United States, we lack enough trained people to fill the information technology (IT) jobs that are vital to every industry. At the same time, our returning military veterans need work, and they represent a valuable talent pool that can help meet a growing need.

We owe it to our military service men and women to support their transition. After their years of service, finding employment is not a battle they should have to fight alone.

Learn more about the IT Training and Certification Program and Pipelines for military veterans in this segment from KGO-TV in San Francisco.

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