A Future for Veterans in Manufacturing

Many veterans of the armed forces have developed skills in the service that extend way beyond their military careers — and that make them great potential manufacturers. 

Recognizing this opportunity for veterans and employers, the Manufacturing Institute and “a coalition of manufacturing companies and community and technical colleges committed to recruiting, training, and retaining veterans in long-term careers in advanced manufacturing and other disciplines” have started a great program called Get Skills to Work (GSTW). 

So far, GSTW has provided more than 100,000 veterans with access to resources and training that have helped them prepare for and enter into advanced manufacturing careers.
 


Why Are Veterans Such Great Manufactures?

According to the Manufacturing Institute’s publication “From Military Front Lines to Manufacturing Front Lines: Veterans and Your Workforce,” ex-military personnel make excellent manufacturing workers because:

  1. They Accelerate the Learning Curve — Veterans have the proven ability to learn new skills and concepts. Many will enter a manufacturing workplace with transferable skills.
  2. They Are Proven Leaders — The military trains people to lead by example.
  3. They Practice Teamwork — Veterans understand how teamwork grows out of a responsibility to one’s colleagues.
  4. They Promote Diversity and Inclusion — Veterans have learned to work side by side with individuals from all walks of life.
  5. They Perform Well Under Pressure — Veterans understand the rigors of tight schedules and how to work with limited resources. They know how to accomplish priorities on time, in spite of tremendous stress.
  6. They Have Respect for Procedures — Veterans value accountability, understanding how and why policies and procedures are important to an organization.
  7. They Are Attuned to Global and Technological Trends — Many veterans have learned about international and technical trends pertinent to business and industry.
  8. They Have Integrity — Veterans know what it means to do “an honest day’s work.”
  9. They Are Conscious of Health and Safety Standards — Veterans are used to abiding by health and safety protocols to protect themselves, as well as the welfare of those around them.
  10. They Are Triumphant in the Face of Adversity — Veterans have likely proven their mettle in mission-critical situations demanding endurance, stamina, and flexibility. In short, veterans possess admirable qualities that will make them great manufacturers — and ideal employees.


Where Can Veterans Go to Learn More About Manufacturing Careers?

The GSTW site includes useful statistics about manufacturing careers that will help veterans determine if a manufacturing career is right for them.

For those who need additional training and want to take it a step further, the site also features links to a number of certification programs offered through organizations such as the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC), the Manufacturing Skills Institute (MSI), and the American Welding Society (AWS).

You can also visit this page on the Manufacturing Institute’s website to see a complete list of the community and technical colleges involved in the GSTW program. These schools all have programs devoted to helping students learn skills that will prepare them for manufacturing careers.

And if you’re a vet ready to find a manufacturing job in your area, the GSTW site has a searchable database of tens of thousands of open manufacturing jobs in the U.S.


How Can Manufacturers Recruit Veterans?

One place to start recruiting veterans is military career fairs. There are dozens that happen across the U.S. throughout the year. Here is a list of career fairs from Veterans Affairs to get you started, although it is by no means comprehensive.

Another option is to use the GSTW job board to advertise your hiring opportunity. You can add a job listing to the GSTW site through the National Labor Exchange.

For a comprehensive playbook that will help you develop a veteran recruitment strategy, download the Manufacturing Institute’s publication “From Military Front Lines to Manufacturing Front Lines: Veterans and Your Workforce.” It outlines a framework for engaging veterans and includes lots of useful links to additional resources and institutions that may be helpful.

Lastly, think about making a concerted effort to attract veterans to your Manufacturing Day event. It’s a great way to start conversations with veterans in your area who may be interested in manufacturing careers. You can start by contacting your local VA. Find the office nearest you by using this directory.