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DOD Launches Public-Private Initiative to Help Veterans Get Licensed

By Allen Smith  5/7/2013
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The White House launched a public-private initiative intended to help fill the skills gap in the workforce by creating more licensing opportunities for members of the armed forces and veterans. The enterprise, put into operation on April 29, 2013, follows on the heels of first lady Michelle Obama’s calls for states to loosen their licensing requirements for those in the military and their spouses.

Waste of Talent

The first lady noted in an April 17, 2013, speech at the signing of the Maryland Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013 that veterans had told them about “the army medics who couldn’t get jobs as EMTs, the marine welders who couldn’t land a manufacturing job here, [and] the convoy drivers who couldn’t get hired to drive a semi.”

She added, “Earlier today I was over at the U.S. Naval Academy, and I met with some wonderful individuals who are here today in the health care professions who have served this country for years—even decades—and have mastered so many highly technical, high-demand skills.”

Sadly, she said, “even with all that experience, these men and women wouldn’t even be considered for entry-level jobs in their fields because they didn’t have the right civilian credentials.”

Participating Employers

Through the Department of Defense’s Military Credentialing and Licensing Task Force, the armed forces have worked with Cisco and other companies and credentialing associations to expand the availability of certifications to military members with skills in information technology (IT).

Cisco and Futures Inc. have developed the IT Training and Certification program, which will match military occupation codes with private-sector core technology career paths. Cisco also has worked with Global Knowledge and Pearson VUE for free to prepare military members for Cisco certified network associate (CCNA) certification exams and other globally recognized industry certifications.

In addition, Cisco has pledged to send a letter to its more than 15,000 U.S. channel partners and suppliers, encouraging them to hire and train veterans. Oracle also is contacting its 20,000-plus channel partners and suppliers for the same reason.

Microsoft has agreed to donate 500 exam vouchers and partially underwrite the cost of Microsoft skills training for service members.

Other employers participating in the initiative include CompTIA, GogoTraining, HP, NetApp, and SANS Institute and Global Information Assurance Certification.

Hurdles for Spouses

Military spouses are 10 times more likely than civilian spouses to have moved across state lines in the past year, according to a February 2013 report from the Executive Office of the President.

“Teaching is the most common occupation among military spouses,” about 95 percent of whom are women, the report notes. The next most common professions for military spouses are nursing, child care services, retail sales and administrative assistants.

State licensing is increasingly required in the workplace, the report reveals. In the 1950s less than 5 percent of employed people were in jobs that required a state-level license. Today, according to one study, approximately a third of workers are licensed by some level of government.

New State Laws

On Feb. 25, 2013, Michelle Obama urged all 50 states to take legislative action to help members of the armed services get the credentials they need to successfully transition to the civilian labor market.

On April 17, 2013, she noted that the following states have passed laws this year to streamline the ability of veterans to earn:

Georgia: licenses in the construction trades. The law also lets licensing boards endorse certain military spousal licenses from other states.

Idaho: licenses for qualified spouses of military members.

Indiana: emergency medical services (EMS) licenses.

Kansas: state licenses, including licenses for EMS and nursing.

Kentucky: EMS licenses and commercial driver’s licenses.

Maryland: state licenses, including licenses for EMS and nursing.

Mississippi: state licenses, including commercial driver’s licenses and licenses for EMS and nursing.

New Mexico: state licenses, including licenses for EMS and nursing.

South Dakota: state licenses, including licenses for nursing.

Tennessee: state licenses, including commercial driver’s licenses and licenses for EMS and nursing.

Utah: state licenses, including commercial driver’s licenses and licenses for EMS and nursing.

Wyoming: state licenses, including commercial driver’s licenses and licenses for EMS and nursing.

She also cited these states:

Arizona: The Military Skills Test Waiver for Commercial Driver’s Licenses was adopted, and the professional licensing requirements for military applicants seeking LPN licensure were eased.

Montana: Provided reserve members with the ability to extend their licensing deadline while serving on active duty.

North Dakota: Granted a teaching license to an applicant who holds a teaching license or certification in another state.

“Since last year, when I spoke to our nation’s governors about the issues facing military spouses, the number of states that have passed laws to help those spouses has more than tripled, from 11 to 36,”the first lady enthused.

She called Maryland’s legislation “one of the best bills that we have seen in this entire country. You all are tackling three big issues all at once. You’re helping our veterans obtain professional credentials. You’re helping them earn college credit. And you’re making it easier for military spouses to continue their careers as they transfer to your state.”

Allen Smith, J.D., is the manager of workplace law content for SHRM. Follow him on Twitter @SHRMlegaleditor.

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