MKE group promotes hiring of veterans

With the unemployment rate currently at 8.3 percent nationally, different demographics of Americans are searching for work. One group, military veterans, reported a 7.5 percent unemployment rate by a Bureau of Labor Statistics report from earlier this month, are starting to receive help in their job search.

The Society of Human Resource Management’s Metro Milwaukee chapter held a seminar last Tuesday at the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board located at 2338 N. 27th St., with hopes of showing local employers ways to hire more veterans.

Program coordinator Heather Page said it is part of the organization’s objective to try to find ways for people to find work. 

“Our mission is to have a passion, especially in these difficult times, to put people back to work,” Page said. “We can educate our members on putting people to work. We are focusing right now on students and veterans.”

The seminar featured guest speakers from the military, who spoke to the audience of human resource professionals and various community leaders about their own experiences as well as ways to provide more opportunities for veterans to find work as civilians.

One of the major issues highlighted at the seminar talked about measures veterans need to take to bolster their resumes.

“There are a lot of transferable skills that a veteran can take into the workplace,” Page said. “With application tracking systems, if a job recruiter types in key words (to search for an applicant), they might not be able to find them on a military resume, but (the veteran) might still have the skills.”

In an effort to combat veteran unemployment, the military is providing transitional programs for those leaving active duty for civilian life.

“The unemployment rate is high everywhere,” said Marquette professor of military science and Lt. Col. Robert Kaderavek. “What the military does do is they have a program called ACAP (Army Career and Alumni Program) where they teach folks about opportunities (available). Everyone gets some exposure to job skills through ACAP.”

The goal of ACAP is to provide job assistance training, counseling and resources for soldiers transitioning back to the workforce. Page said highlighting the military’s ability to provide transitional programs was a key part of the seminar.

“During Vietnam, (soldiers) could go back to civilian life without any job training,” Page said. “Now, the military has transitional programs.”

As part of Gov. Scott Walker’s “Working Wisconsin” plan, the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs is planning to host career fairs, online job fairs and educational seminars to inform employers about the benefits of hiring veterans.

“Partnering with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, (we are) up to 15 Career & Benefit Fairs now,” said Kathleen Scholl, communications specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Veterans affairs. “We are in process of finalizing our list (of fairs) and will post information to our website soon.”

The Society of Human Resource Management is also planning to have more events concerning veteran employment in the future.

“This was just one of many events we currently have planned or are planning,” Page said.

The Metro Milwaukee Society of Human Resource Management has been in existence since 1925 and represents more than 900 members from over 500 companies.