Finding a job biggest challenge for U.S. veterans: Survey

Translating military experience to civilian skills biggest challenge
||Last Updated: 08/20/2012

With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down, more than two-thirds (69 per cent) of United States veterans reported finding a job as the greatest challenge in transitioning to civilian life, found a recent survey.

And 64 per cent of veterans experienced a difficult transition to civilian life, found the Veterans Employment Challenge survey of 1,845 veterans conducted by Prudential Financial.

“With tens of thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans returning from service, the good news is that the nation is more focused than ever on helping Veterans transition back into civilian careers,” said Raymond Weeks, vice-president of veterans initiatives at Prudential Financial. “But with unemployment among veterans significantly higher than the population overall, particularly those under 30, the need to help get veterans on career paths has never been greater.”

Close to one-half of veterans did not feel ready to transition largely due to employment and health challenges, but also the need to take time to decompress after service and “figure out what’s next.” Along with the difficulty of finding a job in the current economy, 60 per cent of veterans reported that their most significant challenge is explaining how their military experience translates to skills of interest to a civilian employer.

Veterans also pointed to the challenge of competing with candidates who have been in the workforce longer (46 per cent) as well as a lack of education for specific roles (43 per cent).

“Veterans are loyal, disciplined and resilient leaders given the challenges they’ve faced at war and now at home,” said Paul Rieckhoff, IAVA Founder and Executive Director. “These qualities uniquely define the new greatest generation — and they are values that any employer would want in a new employee. As thousands transition home, what these men and women need most are opportunities to deploy their proven skills and leadership in the civilian workforce on the home front.”

While the readiness to transition to civilian life increases with age and education, Veterans facing physical or mental health challenges are twice as likely to say they were not ready to transition (53 per cent versus 28 per cent respectively). Recognizing the need and value of education, close to one-half who said they didn’t feel ready to transition believe they need more education or technical training.

Despite the difficulty they report in their transition into civilian roles, 90 per cent of veterans looking for a job believe they have the skills needed to land their ideal job. They point to problem-solving, leadership, ethics and time management and, although less frequently, specific skills such as information technology or health care that can be applied to civilian roles.

Although the majority (71 per cent) feel their military service is respected by employers, fewer believe their skills and training are appreciated (56 per cent). Moreover, three in five are concerned about translating their skills to a business environment (58 per cent) and one in two worry that non-veteran managers do not understand military culture (48 per cent).

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