With unemployment at record low levels, employers are faced with a hiring environment that isn’t exactly friendly or easy to navigate. In smaller labor pools, the retention of current staff can be strained as businesses move against each other to acquire competitor talent by poaching. This is particularly tough in states suffering from extensive labor pool aging deficits. How can a company maneuver in this environment and not only attract the people that have their desired skillsets, but also retain them?
One strategy has been to target specific populations that may be underutilized in your area. However, what if your company is unable to take advantage of most alternative labor pools? Maybe you require clearance levels or some other limiting factor that doesn’t let you take advantage of these groups. Why not target a labor pool already known for their capability, work ethic and who are eagerly looking to engage with employers offering the right opportunity? The Veteran population has been in the forefront in recent years as an amazing asset for business. Tremendous effort has been made to connect businesses and Veteran job seekers. If your company operates in a geographical area or industry that has challenges maintaining competitive wages or a larger environment that is being hit by the age deficit, then Veterans may seem as unattainable as any other alternative labor pool. There are things that you can do to improve your recruitment of this highly sought-after group and make your company more competitive.
A way to create an incentivized recruitment strategy and access the Veteran talent pool, even in these low unemployment times, is to develop programs that your competitors won’t have! Veterans can access their GI Bill benefits if your company has an approved On-the-Job-Training (OJT) program which gives them access to the basic housing allowance rate for your location and money for training courses. Developing programs like this will give your company an incredible advantage over your competitors. It allows the Veteran to receive tax free housing allowances on top of the wages you are offering, effectively increasing their bottom line during the training time. If you combine this program with other programs, like a Federally Registered Apprenticeship Program, then as a business you can receive other benefits as well.
Some of those benefits are as follows:
- Customized Training – The needs of your company are built into training plans helping to ensure that you receive an employee trained in exactly the skillsets you desire.
- Increased Employee Retention – Your competitors will likely NOT have these programs established. If a company has no approved OJT or Registered Apprenticeship, then the Veteran can’t access their benefit to enhance their earnings. A Veteran is unlikely to leave your company when they could potentially earn an addition $24,000 tax free on top of their paycheck by staying!
- Reduced Financial Risk – It can be difficult to justify a hire if the candidate doesn’t possess all the skills you desire. Many of these types of programs have a built-in wage increase leading up to the wage you’d pay someone fully trained. This allows you to start off paying a training wage to not only try out the candidate as a test fit, but to also reduce the initial wage requirements during that period.
- Government Incentives – In many states there are incentives to creating and maintaining training programs. They may include tax credits or even reimbursement to offset training costs.
- Offset Training Costs – Local or state programs may be utilized to help pay for training as well. That could be the Veteran’s GI Bill benefit itself, or it could be other accessible programs.
- Credentials for the Trainee – If a program is built correctly, the trainees will receive relevant and industry recognized credentials, even full degrees in certain cases.
- Guaranteed Wage Increases for the Trainee – While you as the employer get the opportunity to save some wage expenditure up front, the trainee gets to earn while they learn! Many of these programs require built in wage increase schedules which is good planning and risk mitigation for personnel, but even better incentive and life planning for the trainee. This predictive wage increase helps solidify retention even further.
But how do you find the time and make the effort to build programs like this when you’re already so busy running your business? That’s a great question and one we often hear. It can be very intimidating to consider creating programs. After all, government programs are usually paperwork and time intensive. Our recommendation is to seek help. It’s probable that you’re doing much of the work required for a successful program already, but you may need consultation with experts to figure out how to convert that into something that will be approved by State, Federal or Veteran Administration agencies. You can frequently receive advise and assistance from the agencies themselves or you can seek out a third party, such as Military Talent Source (MTS), to work with you on behalf of your organization and be a liaison to help interpret the complicated paperwork and sustainment requirements. MTS has a done this for a number of clients, even establishing programs that reach across multi-state footprints.
Let’s revisit something mentioned above – how big and accessible is your local labor pool? Have you or other organizations in your area experienced corporate poaching? The difficulty with many recruiting plans or outreach projects is that they are just recycling the same labor pools. Consider the Veteran population that is about to transition – they are transitioning from service and in most cases the military will pay for their final move. This can allow you to create recruitment plans that can draw from outside your current and potentially stagnant labor pool. Imagine having access to transitioning Veterans and drawing them to your opportunities because you’ve created programs that catch their attention and provide pathways to credentials.
Veterans transitioning from service are looking for opportunities like these. Opportunities that can give them livable and predictable wage increases, provide approved training to access benefits earned and achieve credentialing and ultimately a place they can call their new home. Let’s face it, the environment a Veteran is coming from is renowned for its camaraderie and purpose. To develop a program, or set of programs, that can help a Veteran feel some of this in their new work environment will go a long way towards helping you tap into the advantages of having Veterans on your staff. The programs will also give the Veteran a group of peers and goals to achieve.
If this all sounds good for your company, then the last question would be how to access this transitioning Veteran labor pool. It’s not easy to gain access to military installations to get your opportunities in front of them and you’ll need help from those who know how or already have access. Military Talent Source has created and maintained relationships with some of the country’s largest transition points, in some cases creating exclusive access ahead of other recruiting agencies. We also have a number of Veterans on our staff that can help navigate the language barrier you may face when discussing your opportunities. With the unique background of our staff in both the civilian and military sectors it’s doubtful that we won’t be able to help you meet your next hire on common ground. You can explore our unique company makeup by visiting our staff page.
So, to recap we can outline the layers needed to build a competitive and enticing recruitment strategy:
- Seek assistance from a qualified agency with the background and access you need, such as Military Talent Source!
- Identify vacancies and occupations your company needs help filling that could be developed into training programs.
- Develop that company training program to meet that need and which supplies the credentials to advance in the occupation.
- Get the program approved by the appropriate agencies allowing Veterans to access their GI Bill benefits if enrolled.
- Expand beyond your local labor pools to draw talent from transitioning Veteran locations, advertising your opportunity to an invested audience. Remember, transitioning Veterans are actively looking for that next big opportunity.
- Give a Veteran their next career and a new place to call home through this layered approach and reap the benefits of having motivated Veterans as part of your company!
About the author
Derek Fassett is director of workforce development, a critical role that interfaces with Military Talent Source’s business clients. Prior to working at MTS, he worked for Maine State Government in the Department of Labor with roles in both the Maine Apprenticeship Program and in the Maine Career Center / American Job Center Network.
Military Talent Source matches veteran talent with career opportunity. We are a specialized recruitment process outsourcing firm that conducts military recruiting and veteran employment consulting as a full focus. Whether we are working with businesses or organizations to build veteran-friendly hiring solutions or out on the road meeting with separating veterans at transition sites around the country, we are constantly striving to help businesses recruit and retain veteran talent.