An employment program is offering specialized support for the career readiness needs of job seekers from the National Guard.
“Members of our National Guard are the most misunderstood workforce in the country,” said Danette Hayes, director of the National Guard Employment Network (NGEN) at Vetjobs. “The service member balances their commitment and duty to both the United States and the employer.”
But in doing so, she adds, “they undersell themselves too often.”
Hayes’ organization is the country’s only nonprofit with a National Guard and reserve component employment program. Through NGEN, guardsmen, veterans, spouses, and other dependents have access to no-cost job placement assistance, including resume support, training opportunities, self-paced career development courses, and industry-specific credentialing opportunities.
It’s important work, Hayes says.
“We need to keep engaging the civilian workplace, and helping them understand the value they bring as an organization to our national security. (These) employers are part of the mission.”
The job market for service members has always been a tight one, but times are changing.
“The baby boomer generation retiring in record numbers … (it has) opened up a lot of trade and hard skill positions,” Hayes said.
And, she adds, with just 23% of new National Guard members seeking higher education, more possibilities exist for those trade roles in the National Guard population — especially roles in HVAC and welding, and work for trained electricians and plumbers.
Much of it comes down to a shifting attitude about education, she says.
Eight years ago, for example, a bachelor’s degree was a preferred minimum for many employers, Hayes points out, but the recent pandemic changed that.
“However, COVID and the tightening labor market have created a need for a skill-based workforce. In some sense, we’ve evolved as a working society and realized that almost anyone can be trained, and a four-year college degree isn’t necessary for success or competitive salary in today’s workforce.”
NGEN offers a training platform with more than 32 professional modules to choose from — the three most popular being cyber, project management, and human resources.
And, the training platform is booming: Hayes reports numbers are skyrocketing, and it’s a huge retention tool for the military.
NGEN, Hayes says, works with each individual, from registration until they get hired. Career specialists are incentivized, she explains, to get candidates hired. They also have intimate experience with the military experience, she adds.
“Guardsmen bring something to the job that not every civilian can share, (which is) leadership skills,” Hayes said. “The National Guard has the best NCOs in the military. It’s the ability to work in both the military and the civilian world that sets them apart from the active component. Their soft skills regarding problem solving, emotional intelligence, decision making, delegation, and communication are innate in their roles leading either new recruits or new exercises to masses of individuals.”
Aside from boasting those skills, Hayes also offers a positive outlook on the job scene today for members of the National Guard.
“There are plenty of jobs out there — there are more jobs than people looking for work,” she said. “Wage gains are holding steady, and that’s good news. Remote work is becoming more (popular). Employers are more willing to negotiate in 2023 than they were in 2019.”
There’s a positive employment market out there for guardsmen, Hayes says, if those individuals know how to make the most of their experience, and resources – like NGEN – available to them.
“Employers are more flexible than they used to be,” she said. “They have to be!”
Visit National Guard Employment Network to get access to a one-on-one career specialist
This article was written by Bill Furbee.Read comments