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While there are more than 12 million people unemployed, there are hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs going unfilled due to the lack of people with the right skills to fill those jobs. Much of the demand for skilled workers arises because the automated factories of today demand workers who can operate, program and maintain the new computerized equipment.
On the other side of the equation, we have thousands of young men and women who are ending their military service and having great difficulty finding jobs because there is a mismatch in the skills they acquired in the military and the skill needs to find a civilian job, particularly in the manufacturing industry.
Transitioning from military service to civilian life is challenging in the best of times but has been even tougher in the current economy. For the estimated 2 million veterans who served a tour -- or multiple tours -- of duty in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there are even more hurdles than usual. The jobless rate amongst these veterans was more than 12% in 2011, well above the national average rate of the general population.
It was even worse for veterans between 18 and 34 years old; their jobless rate neared 30% in 2011. In California, nearly one in four veterans ages 18 to 24 were unemployed in 2009, almost double the unemployment rate for the civilian population.
Other factors that come into play include medical advances that are resulting in greater survivability on the battlefield with more “wounded warriors” (severely injured service members) returning home.
On Oct. 5, I visited the Workshops for Warriors facility in San Diego during its Manufacturing Day Facility Tour and met retired naval officer Hernán Luis y Prado, founder and president of Workshops for Warriors, a board-governed 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization that provides free vocational training to military veterans.
WFW assists the transition of veterans into civilian life through mentorship, training, and education. Its mission is to certify and place military veterans into manufacturing careers.The main objective of WFW is to enable veterans to move from economic insolvency into self-sufficiency by learning necessary job-skills and earning a steady income.