A new study from the RAND Corporation in time for Veterans Day indicates that companies have taken steps to funnel veterans into the workforce at higher rates in the past few years.
The research comes with caveats, however. First, it’s clear that insufficient support programs exist to train veterans once they enter the workforce, and second, worker productivity is unclear, as not enough metrics exist to make that determination. For that matter, metrics in general seem an important element to study, since a study last month from VetAdvisor and Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families discovered that two-thirds of veterans left their first post-military job after only two years in the position.
Jobs Mission, a coalition of around 170 companies dedicated to hiring veterans, has recently announced that over 190,000 veterans have been hired in almost every industry since 2011, and the organization hopes to reach 200,000 by the beginning of 2015. The coalition has far surpassed its original goal of 100,000 veterans hired by 2020. Alongside the Jobs Mission, Congress passed Veterans Opportunity to Work to Hire Heroes Act in 2011, which puts in place tax credits for companies hiring veterans.
According to researchers at RAND, the next step is for firms to pioneer “adequate support for veteran employees in such areas as onboarding, career development, and retention” without treating veterans as a protected minority, since the Jobs Mission project is about attracting top-tier talent, and not so much about pure altruism.
“If they can get this right, the military and veterans become a sustaining pipeline of talent for them,” Maureen Casey, director of JPMorgan Chase’s military and veterans programs said. “The level of engagement of these companies and enthusiasm is still high.”
However, in general the report noted that as national priorities shift, firms may move away from hiring veterans. At the moment, the unemployment rate for veterans is at its lowest in six years, hitting 4.5 percent in October. Whether that rate continues to be stable remains to be seen.
“Companies need to start thinking about this,” said Margaret Harrell, one of the RAND report authors. “As veterans hiring becomes a less sexy issue, companies are going to need to show the proof that veterans are worth targeting as workers, and worth continued support.
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