High-tech manufacturing companies are grappling with a vast talent shortage that is threatening the future of the industry. With a projected skills shortage growing to 2 million unfilled positions by 2025, manufacturers must invest in workforce development to ensure their future success. When recruiting new employees, manufacturers would be wise to tap into a talent pool that is often overlooked: U.S. veterans.

Numbering more than 20 million in 2017, veterans have a broad range of competencies and work experiences. Service members are expected to work in high-pressure environments, often achieving objectives under constantly changing circumstances. Veterans offer many skills that are valuable to employers, yet their rate of unemployment is higher than the national average.

Companies that make an effort to recruit veterans ultimately benefit from their aptitude and expertise. Many on-the-job and apprenticeship training programs, including the ICATT Apprenticeship Program, have also been approved to accept the GI Bill from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Started in 1944 after World War II, the GI Bill has helped millions of veterans pay for their education in college, graduate school, and training programs. Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, veterans can receive up to 36 months of benefits, which also aids their employers.

When veterans use their GI Bill benefits for an approved apprenticeship program:

  • Veterans receive a monthly housing allowance during the training
  • Employers generally pay a reduced apprenticeship wage (that is subsidized by GI Bill benefits)

Manufacturers that enroll veterans in their apprenticeship programs gain access to a versatile and valuable talent pipeline.

“Veterans come out of the military with exceptional experiences and skills,” said Mario Kratsch, head of the ICATT Apprenticeship Program. “And companies want to hire veterans. ICATT Network Companies were specifically asking us to get approved to accept GI Bill benefits, which is why we took action.”

But a major challenge companies face when hiring veterans is the disconnect between civilian and military terminology. Servicemembers use different specialization or designator codes to characterize the jobs they do as officers or enlisted personnel. But those codes change across branches of the military, and it can be difficult to decipher for a civilian company’s hiring manager.

ICATT provides resources for companies to use that convert military terms into business vocabulary. It helps HR departments translate military resumes, as well as understand the culture, skills, and backgrounds of veterans who are entering the workforce.

“From a company’s perspective, it’s hard to understand what exactly someone in the Army or the Air Force has done if you don’t speak the language,” said Kratsch. “We simplify it, so they can see, ‘Ah, this person has 12 years of experience as a welder or an electrician.’ We make it clear the value veterans bring into the company.”

Learn more about the benefits of the ICATT Apprenticeship Program.