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Minding the gap: how hiring veterans combats the technical skills shortage

The global talent crunch is becoming more evident than ever in the manufacturing industry. A recent report reveals that the U.S. manufacturing industry may reach a shortfall of 2.4 million workers by 2028. For the United States, the report attributes...
Aug 08, 2019

The global talent crunch is becoming more evident than ever in the manufacturing industry. A recent report reveals that the U.S. manufacturing industry may reach a shortfall of 2.4 million workers by 2028. For the United States, the report attributes much of the labor shortage of skilled workers to an aging population. Trade schools are also producing fewer graduates annually.

Job Openings and Labor Turnover data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that as of April 2019, there were 7.4 million job openings. Another recent survey reveals that among these openings, the jobs employers are struggling to fill the most are mid-skilled roles that require training, but not always a four-year college degree.

Why veterans?

As the VP of Client Solutions at Orion Talent, I have clients come to me every day asking how they can best position themselves against increasing labor shortages and quit rates. My answer, proven time and again, is to hire veterans. They come with world-class technical training, including four to 12 years of technical experience and training, with military backgrounds as highly trained electronics, electrical, and mechanical technicians.

They have also worked under some of the most stringent standards and compliance protocols that exist, such as in the Navy with nuclear power systems. Accustomed to working in stressful situations, veterans are safety conscious and are used to working autonomously, as well as within a command structure.

Military technicians in field service

Companies across the country are leveraging military talent for all kinds of field service positions, including technicians, specialists, and engineers. Over the last 30 years, Orion has matched more than 6,000 veterans with field service careers across most major industries. In the first half of 2019, we’ve hosted more than 250 companies interviewing for these types of positions.

While military technicians are well suited for nearly every type of field service and field engineer position, veterans are also excellent in maintenance, quality assurance, engineering, and technical lab roles. They are hired heavily into industries including capital equipment, energy, oil & gas, medical, semiconductor, building and environmental controls, power distribution, machine tools, food, automotive, and many others. Many are hired as maintenance supervisors, production supervisors, and plant engineers.

Among the many companies partnering with Orion Talent to hire military technicians for field service roles are Siemens USA, Aggreko, HSB, Atlas Copco, Ingersoll Rand, Honeywell, GE, Mazak, Stiles Machinery, Rigaku Americas, and many others.

Benefits of hiring military

Companies that hire technical military talent enjoy many benefits. Improved retention is an important one that directly combats high quit rates. According to Orion Talent’s Veteran Hiring Survey: Exploring the Bottom-line Value of Hiring Veteran Talent, when asked what makes veterans such highly desirable job candidates, 67 percent of employers reported higher retention rates among veterans. Companies also comment on the discipline and reliability of military hires, as well as how quickly they make an impact, because they are able to hit the ground running without a steep learning curve. Many companies have promoted military technicians into lead roles, training roles, and manager positions.

Writing about our Veteran Hiring Survey, Mike Starich, CEO of Orion Talent explains, “With over 200,000 people leaving military service each year and about half of those looking to enter the private sector, veterans represent a viable opportunity for companies to get ahead of the talent crunch.” Starich continues, “Our survey shows that once companies are introduced to veterans, they are quick to engage them. Not only do veterans consistently achieve higher performance ratings, many have leadership experience in intensely challenging situations that go far beyond most civilian experiences.”

Cost of vacancy

The cost of a vacant position in any company, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), is six to nine months of an employee’s salary, based on recruiting and training costs. However, one large compressor manufacturing and service company reported that the overall cost of turnover of a compressor service technician was $75,000. This included manager time and overtime for other employees to cover the work. Multiply this number by the number of openings and the cost is enormous. 

The bottom line

Veterans are a powerful asset, and military technical talent quality is second to none. Veterans across the United States are advancing workforce capabilities and productivity with their skills, experience, commitment, focus, and drive.

Steve Casey
Vice President
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