WASHINGTON, June 1, 2012 â€“ President Barack Obama today announced a new presidential initiative aimed at preparing service members for civilian employment.
Obama provided details about the military-to-civilian certification program during his visit to a Honeywell International Inc. plant in Golden Valley, Minn. Defense contractor Honeywell reportedly has hired hundreds of military veterans at its plants and facilities since early 2011.
â€œLet me tell you something — if you can save a life on the battlefield, you can save a life in an ambulance. If you can oversee a convoy or millions of dollars of assets in Iraq, you can help manage a supply chain or balance its books here at home,â€ Obama said at the plant. â€œIf you can maintain the most advanced weapons in the world, if youâ€™re an electrician on a Navy ship, well, you can manufacture the next generation of advanced technology in our factories like this one. If youâ€™re working on complex machinery, you should be able to take those skills and find a manufacturing job right here — right here at home.â€
But unfortunately, Obama said, many returning veterans with such advanced skills â€œdonâ€™t get hired simply because they donâ€™t have the civilian licenses or certifications that a lot of companies require.â€
At the same time, the president noted, business leaders often say they canâ€™t find enough workers with the skills necessary to fill open positions.
â€œEighty percent of manufacturers say this, according to one survey,â€ Obama said. â€œSo think about it — we got all these openings and all these skilled veterans looking for work, and somehow theyâ€™re missing each other.â€
That doesnâ€™t make any sense, the president said, noting itâ€™s time to fix it.
â€œToday, Iâ€™m proud to announce new partnerships between the military and manufacturing groups that will make it easier for companies to hire returning service members who prove theyâ€™ve earned the skills our country needs,â€ Obama said. â€œSoldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, Coast Guardsmen — if theyâ€™ve got skills in machining or welding or weapons maintenance, for example, youâ€™ll have a faster track to good-paying manufacturing jobs.â€
â€œService members with experience in logistics or maintenance on the front linesâ€ will â€œhave a faster track to jobs in those fields here at home,â€ he added.
The initiative will enable up to 126,000 service members to obtain civilian credentials and certifications in a number of high-demand industries, officials said.
â€œI applaud President Obamaâ€™s initiative to help thousands of service members obtain industry-recognized certifications for the trade skills they have learned and worked hard to master while in uniform,â€ Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said in a statement issued today.
The Defense Department has created a military credentialing and licensing task force as part of the initiative, officials said. It developed partnerships with major manufacturing credentialing agencies to expand certifications to active duty military personnel in the fields of engineering, logistics, maintenance and welding.