Chamber partners to aid veteran job seekers

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The Tucson Metro Chamber has rolled out a new partnership aimed at helping to link military veterans with aerospace and defense jobs.

The chamber is teaming with Futures, Inc. to launch the Southern Arizona Veterans Workforce Initiative, a website and job portal that helps veterans, Reserve members and their families connect with meaningful employment by making it easier for employers to get a grasp of the job skills of individual veterans.

Futures Inc. has developed the program in collaboration with the Defense Department, with a goal of reducing unemployment among veterans, who can struggle to find work after they leave the military. According to Bureau of Labor statistics, veterans ages 25 to 34 have a higher unemployment rate than nonveterans. This problem is compounded in Tucson, which suffers from nearly a full percent higher unemployment rate than the rest of the nation.

Southern Arizona is an ideal location due to multiple nearby military bases and local colleges, according to Amber Smith, Tucson Metro Chamber president and CEO.

“We are extremely well positioned for this,” she said. “Ultimately we’d like Arizona to be the aerospace and defense hub for our country.”

She added that the website would be one-stop shopping for veterans who are looking for work.

“We’re not duplicating our efforts,” Smith said. “We’re enhancing them and putting them into one gateway.”

The job pipeline’s website is aerospacejobs.usmilitarypipeline.com. The mobile-friendly site combines military occupation codes with civilians’ skills and certifications. It also includes factors like security clearances and military work experience.

“It is the day and age where technology can allow us to do all things better and faster,” said Ian Roark, Pima Community College vice president of workforce development.

The Southern Arizona Veterans Workforce Initiative is working with PCC, automatically routing students in and to their desired two- and four-year programs. Roark said this employment tool will allow the college to connect student veterans to employers almost instantaneously, and it is allowing the college to do a 180 to align with the industry.

As part of their collaboration, Tucson Metro Chamber and PCC will host a face-to-face hiring event 1 to 6 p.m. Oct. 23 at the PCC main campus.

“The communities that solve this labor shortage are the ones that are going to win,” said Joe Snell, Sun Corridor Inc. president and CEO.

Tucson was also marked as a great city for the veteran jobs pilot program due to our abundance of aerospace and engineering companies, including Raytheon, Caterpillar, TuSimple and more.

“Labor drives all market decisions,” Snell said. “I think Tucson’s best times are ahead of us.”

For more information, visit aerospacejobs.usmilitarypipeline.com.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Inside Tucson Business, a publication of Tucson Local Media.