Building Careers: From Military To Manufacturing

Former military personnel can make for a good fit at your manufacturing company.

We all experience points of transition in our lives. Some of us transition from college to career, or we make the move from being single to getting married. For military personnel leaving active duty, or the reserves, there also needs to be a change: back to civilian life, and a new job.

Each year, over 200,000 military personnel return to civilian life, starting the second phase of their career. These special men and women deserve special consideration when applying for civilian jobs.

So, what qualifications might an exiting serviceperson bring to your manufacturing company? According to the Study of Civilian Licensure and Certification for Veterans, our nation’s military services provide skills and services pertinent to the industry, including scientific research, infrastructure development and technology enhancement skills. Surprisingly, only one in six enlisted members of the military serve specifically in pure combat jobs, while one in four serve in high-tech jobs and in fields like electronic equipment repair and communications.

Exiting service members can also provide important qualities like quick thinking, loyalty and a solid work ethic, qualities the military demands and that will serve your manufacturing company well.

In early 2005, the National Association of Manufacturers and Deloitte Consulting published a joint survey reviewing the needs for American manufacturing in the future. The survey, The 2005 Skills Gap Report – A Survey of the American Manufacturing Workforce, noted significant shortages in the manufacturing sector. These employment shortages continually put American competitiveness in jeopardy.

When survey respondents were asked which skill deficiencies contributed the most to negative business performance, the most frequent responses were related to basic employability skills, including attendance, work ethic and timeliness. Former military personnel have little to no issue with these categories, due to the highly disciplined structure and expectations placed upon them in the various military branches.

Long-term performance workforce concerns included the inability to work in teams, weak computer skills and inadequate problem solving skills, according to the Skills Gap Study. Similar to the stereotype that manufacturing jobs are related to working on a production line, the military stereotype of the “foot soldier” is no longer applicable. Today’s military is high-tech and exiting personnel are prepared for the high-tech challenges in manufacturing. The military also requires quick, yet methodical, thinking for problem solving.

When manufacturers were asked what strategies were being used to recruit new employees, reaching out to exiting military wasn't mentioned. This disconnect can be easily resolved by reaching out to programs already in place by the Department of Defense, as well as agencies specializing in aiding exiting military members in their transition to civilian employment. It doesn't hurt that, according to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2005 wage potential of production workers in manufacturing was higher than production and non-supervisory workers in all private sectors. The unemployment rate for manufacturing was also lower than the national average.

Exiting military personnel are also highly educated. According to the data from the Department of Defense, just about all enlisted personnel are high school graduates and more than 95% of all commissioned officers have a college degree.

By creating a “veteran-friendly” environment at your company will open doors to more highly-skilled, loyal employees, while filling high-tech jobs that are necessary to move manufacturing forward.

Veteran-focused Organizations

More in Labor