Hiring U.S. Veterans: An Open Letter to Technology Companies

Hiring U.S. Veterans: An Open Letter to Technology Companies

Twice in recent weeks, I've heard technology executives offer the following call to action: Thousands of U.S. Armed Forces veterans are returning home and looking for work. It's time for you (technology companies and employers from all verticals) to make sure those military veterans are on your shortlist of job candidates. Here's why.

First, the background. During a keynote at Ingram Micro Cloud Summit, North America President Keith Bradley went off-script and encouraged attendees to hire veterans returning home from Iraq and other locations. Bradley said the unemployment rate among returning veterans is twice the unemployment rate of high school dropouts. “Let’s put a dent in that statistic, together,” he concluded.

And then earlier this week, Continuum CEO Michael George told Nine Lives Media President Amy Katz and me that his company was taking steps to interview and hire veterans. George noted that veterans are great candidates because of their discipline, commitment to doing a job right, and technical skills. It sounds like a larger official Continuum announcement will surface in time for July 4 (Independence Day here in the U.S.).

The Numbers Are Staggering

Hiring U.S. veterans is a familiar theme in the IT Channel. CompTIA, an association closely aligned with VARs and MSPs, in 2011 unveiled the Troops to Tech Careers initiative. At the time, CompTIA estimated that more than one million service members would return from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars between 2011 and 2016. That was in addition to an estimated one million unemployed veterans in 2011.

I'll be sure to seek a Troops to Tech Careers update from CompTIA during the Breakaway conference in August.

UPDATED, June 14, 5:27 p.m. ET: I just received an email from Colleen White, senior program manager, workforce development, CompTIA. She stated:
"Since we started our pilot program in October 2011, and officially launched the initiative to our partners in March 2012, approximately 4,955 veterans have earned CompTIA certifications.  We are in the process of collecting success stories from our partners and will have 2 success story videos ready for public release at the end of the month that highlight veterans that have been educated, CompTIA certified and are working today as a result of those certifications.  Additionally, we are still recruiting companies to our Corporate Registry, which now totals 24 companies – but obviously would love to have more participation from companies and buzz around the hiring piece."
Side Note: I will update this blog with a link to the Corporate Registry once I track it down.

Let's Gain Economies of Scale

Now, an open letter to CompTIA President Todd Thibodeaux, Ingram Micro's Keith Bradley and Continuum's Michael George: I wonder if there's an opportunity for individual companies and organizations (CompTIA, Continuum, Ingram Micro, etc.) to organize their efforts into a larger channel-wide veteran hiring initiative? Maybe we can all take the Troops to Tech Careers initiative and crank up the volume in a really big way?

If so, perhaps the IT channel media -- multiple properties -- could lend a hand spreading the word.

Focus on the Right Conversations

In recent months, we've heard about a weak job market and stagnant U.S. economy. Once again, our politicians are pointing fingers at each other -- blaming each side for the disappointing employment stats.

Let's shift the conversation away from the political chatter and get down to business. Hundreds (perhaps thousands) of MSPs are growing. Cloud services providers are growing. Hire the absolute best candidates to help your business grow. But don't overlook a great talent pool for those vacant positions: Our U.S. veterans.

Parting note: If you're a channel-focused technology company that hires a U.S. military veteran between now and September 1, 2012, contact me. I will profile the first five companies I hear from in Q4 2012. Post a comment or email me privately, joe [at] NineLivesMediaInc [dot] com to share the initial details.

I look forward to describing your efforts with our readers.
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