Two new employees began working at CTL Aerospace recently. Following a period of internal training on first shift, one will become a second-shift fabricator at the Cincinnati-based composite manufacturing firm. The other is gaining the skills required for his role as de-mold technician on third shift. 

See Also: Manufacturing Workforce Management Best Practices

Both are military veterans. They are two members of the first class of U.S. military veterans to complete classes from the nationwide Get Skills to Work training program, which aims to train veterans for jobs in advanced manufacturing. The program launched in October 2012 and includes among its founders General Electric, Alcoa, Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The Manufacturing Institute is managing the program.

putting military veterans to work in manufacturing"They are doing great," says Jim Golem, CTL Aerospace director of human resources, of the military veteran hires. Golem also is president of the GSTW Cincinnati Military Advisory Board.  

Golem says military veterans bring with them many of the competencies his company looks for in its hires: decision-making skills, analytical thinking and good communication skills, to name a few. 

"Our most successful employees have these," he says. 

CTL Aerospace's new workforce members are among 11 veterans who participated in a completion ceremony at Cincinnati State's Workforce Development Center in March. As of mid-April, local employers had hired five members of the first class, while others were in the interview process or pursuing further education. A sixth veteran, from the second GSTW class, also had been hired.

The Get Skills to Work coalition aims to train and match 100,000 veterans with advanced manufacturing jobs by 2015, with the assistance of additional partners. More immediately, initial investments in Get Skills to Work will help some 15,000 veterans translate their military experience into civilian opportunities, the organization says. The program includes accelerated skills training; providing employers with recruiting and onboarding assistance; and a digital "badge" system to help translate skills learned in the military to civilian workforce skills.

Matching skills to the needs of local manufacturing employers is a key to this program. For example, GSTW partners worked with local businesses to develop curriculum at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. In return, local manufacturing firms, including CTL Aerospace, GE, Meyer Tool and others may review candidates from the program for potential hire. 

"It's really a win-win for manufacturers," Golem says, adding that he would like to see more manufacturing companies get involved. 

Get Skills to Work will roll out in several pilot cities this year. In addition to Cincinnati, other cities include Fort Worth, Texas; Houston; and Schenectady, N.Y.

See Also: Closing the Manufacturing Skills Gap