Utility Contractor

SEP-OCT 2018

As the official magazine of NUCA, Utility Contractor presents the latest information affecting every aspect of the utility construction industry, including technological advancements, safety issues, legislative developments and instructional advice.

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20 Utility Contractor | September/October 2018 often an opportunity for veterans or ac- tive duty military to subscribe to industry publications, and there is not much in the general news media about any given industry to motivate veterans to pick out the industry and its associations to spend much time Googling. Even when veter- ans visit industry websites, most industry association websites have very little con- tent directed at attracting veterans, Guard and Reserve members. Too many companies have the ex- pectation that non-profits, the military and state agencies will do the recruit- ing for them when it comes to veter- ans. In effect, they try to outsource the recruiting because they think these organizations are somehow supposed to provide fully vetted veteran can- didates. This perception is incorrect. The veteran referral organizations will do their best to sift and sort available candidates, and then provide the re- sumes to the employer for the em- ployer to follow-through. Too many employers take umbrage at this and conclude that no one really helped us. How is your organization address- ing the issue? What are the challeng- es that you are facing trying to match veterans and employers? Steve Nowlan: Center for America (CFA) works with trade associations and employers to provide them with the knowledge and networking resources they need to find and hire veterans. Our free how-to Guides and State Resource Directories have been downloaded more than 170,000 times by employers across the United States. We help associations provide free access to these resources by providing them with co-branded Veteran Hiring Resources web pages they can link to their association websites. CFA also provides free webinars host- ed by associations for their members, as well as free webinars for unaffiliated employers. We provide presentations at association meetings, customize our publications in collaboration with as- sociations, participate as guest members of association workforce development committees, and publish video brief- ings. We also author articles for industry publications. Our overall goal is to help build the self-sufficiency of small to mid-size com- panies to find and hire veterans, National Guard members and Reservists. Through all of our communication channels, we offer our materials to more than 75,000 employers annually. In terms of challenges, in addition to the points made above, industry and company leaders in the manufacturing, technology and infrastructure industries are often focused on very high priority issues in the broader political and eco- nomic environment, such as the recent focus on tariffs, taxes and immigration, all of which have major impacts on the ability and opportunity to hire and man- age employees. How do you rate training in the in- dustry? Do you find that there is suf- ficient training available or are you required to train employees after they are hired? Nowlan: A great deal depends on whether the company is focusing its recruiting on veterans whose training and experience relates closely to its industry, or, whether the company is much less focused and is hiring mili- tary candidates even if they have no related skills. A surprising number of companies hire veterans, without regard for related occupational skills, just because they are more disciplined and drug free. These veterans will need training which can often take the form of community college programs, which in turn, are of- ten collaborations with industry. The number of these collaborations is grow- ing, but due to the number of parties involved and the complexities of creat- ing consensus around curriculum con- tent, these collaborations often take a year to three years to establish. So, the increase is something of a trickle rather than a strong flow. Those companies that identify and reach out to military units that train and utilize skills closely related to the com- pany's work, can often recruit employees who need in-company mentoring more than formal outside training. There is a trade-off in that it requires more com- pany time to develop the relationships with the military units, but, the employ- ees recruited need less company time to get acclimated and on the job. In every industry there are examples of companies that are doing a really good job of providing in-company training to all the employees they are hiring. However, many companies, perhaps the highest proportion, want to hire employees who are already fully trained and simply need orienta- tion. These companies don't want to spend the money to provide training, perhaps in part because the recruiting process may not yield new employees who will stay long enough to complete the training. One major company we know of had particularly poor recruit- ing and hired 100 veterans without any particular selection criteria, and had 60 of the 100 wash out during the six-month training program. Unfortunately, many industries that vocally complain about the shortage of skilled employees offer on-line or in- person training programs that are mis- aligned with military occupational skill levels and require military candidates to pay relatively high fees to enroll. When these programs are not certified by the State Approving Authorities (in each state acting on behalf of the Veter- ans Administration), the military can- didates cannot use their GI Bill benefits to pay the tuition costs. More indus- tries need to consider either lowering the training program fees or eliminat- ing them altogether for veterans as part of an inducement package to attract veterans to participate. In addition, some industries need to review the misalignment issue, so as, for example, to accept military training attainments as the basis for waiving some industry course completions.

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