A program that trains participants for a post-military civilian career has moved online.
Onward to Opportunity, a program offered through Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) for members of the National Guard, reserves and military spouses, offers training in technical and soft skills with over 40 different career training programs and certifications.
“Program participants now can earn free certifications for in-demand career fields including information technology, project management and human resource management in classes that run on a quarterly basis,” Mike Bianchi, IVMF Senior Director of Education and Career Training, said.
Before coronavirus upended traditional classroom learning, O2O was online and present at 19 military installations. For now, however, it’s exclusively virtual. Accepted participants can choose classes like Google IT Support, Business Management, Database Management, Cloud Services, Customer Service and more — with no tuition or textbook fees.
Formerly known as the Veteran Career Transition Program, O2O was established in 2015 with support from the Schultz Family Foundation to combat the then-16% unemployment rate for veterans.
“The shift online will positively impact tens of thousands moving on from the military. IVMF has marshalled its expansive technological resources to ensure those transitioning out of the military have the resources they need in a dire economy to step out of the military into successful employment positions,” according to a recent IVMF press release.
More than 12,000 have been enrolled, with O2O boasting a roughly 75% job placement rate for graduates.
“I believe the true benefit of the program is finding out what you would be happiest doing, which made the transition from the military much less daunting,” Jean-Carlos Hernandez, a former Navy lieutenant, said. “I had a general sense of what I wanted and the program helped me more clearly identify where I should be focusing my attention for a new career.”
O2O’s in-person classes consisted of three to four eight-hour days for each learning module. By contrast online sessions have been condensed to about four hours a day.
“We’ve also relaxed course requirements for the time being,” O2O National Program Director Michael Schoeneck said. “There are a lot of people at home now with kids. We’re sensitive to that, but we also maintain a high level of delivery.”
O2O also has a strong relationship with Hire Heroes USA, a veteran-focused nonprofit with connections to over 850 national employers who are actively seeking veterans as new hires.
“Distance learning services are needed now more than ever, because transition is always a time of uncertainty, and COVID-19 has introduced a higher level of uncertainty,” Schoeneck said. “We want to make sure that we are supporting transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses.”