As unemployment rates for returning U.S. veterans continue to improve — from a high of 12.7 percent in May of 2012 to just 6.3. percent this past June — experts are attributing the improving numbers to corporate America better educating themselves and employment friendly initiatives for veterans.
“Companies are missing out on some of the top talent in the world,” says Larry Moench, president of Valor, an employee resource group at Southern California Edison (SCE) that works to educate people about the roles and contributions of active and non-active military employees.
Moench, who joined the National Guard in 1983 and went on to serve in the U.S. Army during Desert Storm, says veterans embody qualities that would attract many employers. “There’s not too much of a learning curve. They have years of experience in the field and have motivation, take initiative and are self-motivated employees.”
In 2012, SCE was ranked 63 on the G.I. Jobs Top 100 list of military friendly employers. The utility also recently announced their support of AB 1268, a bill introduced by California State Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez that would enhance SCE’s efforts to work with veterans’ outreach organizations and programs.
If passed, the bill would establish the Veterans Workforce Development and Employment Office within the Labor and Workforce Development Agency to coordinate state veterans’ workforce development and employment services. AB 1268 is currently circulating the Senate for approval.
“Our nation’s veterans have sacrificed much in protection of our freedoms,” said Kelly E. Boyd, SCE director of state public affairs, in a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee in support of AB 1268.
California is home to an estimated 2 million veterans according to recent Census data. California’s June unemployment rate stands at 8.5 percent, according to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, higher than the national average currently at 7.6 percent. The unemployment rate for veterans was at 6.3 percent in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ early July report.
Moench left the California National Guard in 2001 and joined the SCE family in 2003 and says transitioning into the workforce can be challenging for some veterans. “It was a voluntary process for me, so I had time to prepare, but it’s still a difficult process.”
He’s glad to see that AB 1268 would help identify employers and small businesses interested in hiring veterans and provide a means by which training and placement may occur. The bill would also require the Veterans Workforce Development and Employment Office to research the needs of California vets and help develop a profile of veteran’s employment and their training needs.
Kristi Campbell, SCE principal manager for Diversity and Inclusion, says employees who served in the military are working with human resources to create a guide for hiring managers and recruiters. The employees help translate military skills to what SCE employers may be looking for in a job applicant. The group also helps put veterans in a position to better leverage their skills.
“We help translate skills and knowledge gained in the service and how they apply to our company,” said Campbell.