As we recognize and celebrate our veterans on this day, the manufacturing industry honors the veterans that have been part of its workforce for years.
In fact, many companies have specific employee resource groups that are comprised of veterans and often choose leaders from this group.
But more work needs to be done to encourage employers to hire nearly 200,000 people each year that transition from military to civilian life. The Manufacturing Institute ( which is the nonprofit workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers,) created a program called Heroes MAKE America a few years ago.
The program offers access to workforce and skills development training for veterans and their families to help them find and excel in a career in manufacturing. The program currently operates in five states but is continuing to enlarge its footprint.
Since it began, the program has had more than 400 graduates who have gone on to be placed in more than 100 companies across 37 states.
In the wake of the pandemic, an additional service was launched called Heroes Connect to virtually connect the military community with prospective employers so they can have face-to-face interactions with leading manufacturing companies that are actively hiring.
The skills and talent this group brings to the manufacturing community have been substantial. Jaime Irick, PPG vice president, architectural coatings, U.S. and Canada, explains.
"Veterans are proven to have the skills and technical expertise needed for manufacturing roles. Their leadership experience allows them to work toward larger goals and remain calm under pressure. Their background often includes experience in advanced technology, and they understand and are dedicated to safety and compliance. They are poised to be natural leaders, and they are ideal candidates for manufacturing careers. As a Veteran myself, (former U.S. Army artillery officer and West Point graduate), I can speak to these skills with confidence, given the amazing leaders whom I worked with during my military career. “
A report from the Society of Human Resource Management, based on studies from RAND Corporation, Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families and other sources, echoes Irick's observations. The military services provide a specific set of os skills that are ideally suited to manufacturing organizations.
• Leadership and teamwork. Military service creates individuals who work to earn the respect of their peers and understand how to bring people together to pursue strategic common goals.
• Problem solving and decision-making. Servicemen and servicewomen are required to react quickly and precisely, adapting to new information in dynamic, high-pressure situations.
• Honesty and attention to detail. Many veterans have high-level security clearances, and all are trained to meet the highest standards when it comes to ethics, safety and other organizational imperatives.
• Global perspectives. Members of the military usually have years of on-the-ground experience working with international teams of diverse individuals—a distinct advantage in our globalizing economy
For these reasons and other, companies specifically seek out this talent. “As a retired Marine, I’ve made it a point to focus on hiring and elevating veterans,” explained Jim Stefanchin is director of talent, learning and organization development, Panasonic North America, in an IndustryWeek article.
“ Not only do I have the utmost respect for the men and women who have sacrificed so much to protect our nation – which in itself speaks volumes to their values and dedication to a cause – I also understand the kind of skills veterans can offer organizations. From their flexibility to work in any location to their teamwork mentality, I see hiring veterans as a crucial element in the success of any organization.”