Smart Job Fairs Part of Larger Approach to Combating New Veteran Unemployment
Posted by Moran Banai on October 7
Americans across the country are feeling the effects of the stagnating job market, but Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been hit particularly hard. Yesterday, IAVA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched the first in a series of Smart Job Fairs in San Francisco to tackle some of the key challenges new vets face when looking for work.
This morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the newest unemployment numbers and the situation is not improving. OEF/OIF-era veteran unemployment in September was 11.7 percent – up from 9.8 percent in August. That means 235,000 new OEF/OIF-era veterans could not find a job last month.
The unemployment rate for these vets has been trending higher and higher compared to the national unemployment rate. In 2009, the gap between this group and the national rate was less than one percentage point. By 2010, the gap was almost two percentage points. And so far it looks likely that the gap could hit more than three percentage points in 2011.
Finding a solution to new veterans’ unemployment will require a comprehensive approach. Many veterans need help throughout their transition from combat to career – from thinking about career paths to conveying to prospective employers the skills they gained in the military that would make them excellent employees to succeeding once they are in the door.
Working with the veterans is not enough, however. As the Pew Research Center reported this week, a survey they conducted in the past few months shows that there is a gap between the military and civilians. Seventy-one percent of the civilians Pew polled said they had no idea what problems those in the military face. This lack of understanding continues when veterans enter the marketplace. Since few Americans have experienced combat, they do not necessarily understand the business argument for hiring veterans.
IAVA's Smart Job Fairs seek to address these challenges. Veterans at yesterday’s kickoff event had access to resume review and interview skills workshops to help them better represent their value to prospective employers. And they talked to employers about bridging the civilian-military divide.
These fairs, which are part of a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America commitment, are just one example of the role that the private sector and nonprofit organizations can take in helping to lower the unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. There is a place for every American in this effort and together we can help reduce the unemployment rate. We must ensure that veterans who fought bravely for their country can help move our economy forward by bringing their hard-earned skills back to a civilian job.
To learn more about IAVA’s Combat to Career campaign and support our efforts to make sure every veteran has a job click here.
Are you a veteran looking for a job? Click here to register for future IAVA Smart Job Fairs coming to a city near you.
Moran Banai is IAVA's Senior Research Associate in Washington, D.C. She leads IAVA’s research program and works closely with our policy director and legislative staff to define the most urgent issues facing new veterans.
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