Military veterans seen by U.S manufacturers as the ideal workforce

November 12, 2012

A number of leading U.S. manufacturers are looking to fill potential holes in their workforce by bringing thousands of army veterans into the industry.

According to USA Today, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has joined forces with General Electric, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Alcoa to provide a number of training programs that could be the first step in transitioning former military service personnel into civilian life. The domestic manufacturing industry is going through a renaissance at the moment, but there has been a concern that there are an increasing number of positions remaining unfilled, with some companies having to reassess their business strategy in light of a projected talent gap.

Figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate that there are currently over 600,000 manufacturing jobs available in the U.S., with industry leaders predicting that this could increase once an aging workforce reaches retirement. With young people seemingly attracted to other industries such as technology or finance, manufacturers have had to consider a number of different recruitment strategies to appeal to workers that may not have considered the business of making things as a career choice.

The collaboration between the companies and the manufacturing organization is intended to appeal to recently returned veterans who would feel comfortable being part of a global manufacturing strategy. The initial recruitment drive will be targeted at 15,000 potential employees, with the aim being to increase that to 100,000 as more companies join the initiative.

The Manufacturing Institute, a non-profit branch of the NAM, will manage the project with online tools and recruitment initiatives being rolled out to prospective employers. Industry analysts estimate that the U.S. will need 10 million skilled manufacturing workers by 2020, and with overseas conflicts seeming to be drawing to a close, returning veterans are seen as the answer to the number of vacant positions.

Sources at Boeing reveal that the company has hired and trained nearly 3,000 veterans in the last 21 months, with figures showing that over 64,000 former military personnel are employed at GE, Lockheed, Alcoa and Boeing. Training for the latest recruitment project will begin in January 2013, with a number of sites opening across the country.

"A few years ago, veteran hiring was touted as 'the right thing to do' for vets," said Mike Haynie, executive director and founder of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families. "You can also look at this as an opportunity for them to serve yet again, we all recognize how important the manufacturing industry is to this country."