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Solving The Skilled Labor Dilemma With Military Veterans

The shortage of skilled labor available for hire is bad — and it is worldwide. New research conducted by the Manpower Group for the 2020 World Economic Forum in Switzerland revealed that 54 percent of employers surveyed globally were struggling with skilled labor shortages. Organizations in 36 of 44 countries surveyed reported that it was harder to attract skilled talent in 2019 than in 2018. The United States led the group, with 69 percent of respondents reporting acute shortages.

In this country, the problem tends to be most associated with the construction industry but other sectors — agriculture and manufacturing, in particular — are being affected as well. If your organization is desperately searching for skilled workers and coming up short, be sure you are fully exploring one of the richest sources of these valuable hires: military veterans.

Finding the right candidates

Why vets? It is pretty simple — they have already been trained. And not only have they been trained; they have received real-world experience applying their skills. Many of them have worked in difficult and dangerous work environments, enabling them to exercise remarkable persistence and problem-solving abilities.

Naturally, some veterans have skill sets more suitable to your organization as a whole — or to a specific job opening — than others. Many military skills transfer well to the demands of a civilian job, but the connection may not be obvious. To help employers match their job categories with a vet’s experience, the U.S. Department of Labor sponsors a website,, which offers a simple two-step process for hiring veterans as well as a handy “Civilian-to-Military Occupation Translator.”

To use the translator tool, you enter the civilian occupation title into the field and the system finds military occupation titles with similar skills. For example, a search for the civilian occupation “Executive Secretaries and Executive Administrative Assistants” generates 11 military jobs that involve the same relevant experience. A search for “Construction Managers” brings up 34 related military occupations.

Thinking about culture

Even though many military occupations involve the same skills you may be looking for in a new hire, the military has a culture all its own. If you are not a veteran yourself, take time to learn about it by talking to vets and doing some general research.

The Veterans Administration and a host of other organizations that promote the hiring of veterans can connect you with people who can bring you up to speed. There also are private consulting firms that specialize in helping employers recruit and train vets.

Possibly claiming a tax break

In addition, hiring certain military veterans may qualify your organization for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. This is a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your income tax liability based on a percentage of wages paid to each eligible employee. Contact us for help determining precisely how to claim the credit, as well as for assistance in assessing other financial and payroll factors in hiring military veterans.

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