This week, as we celebrate the men and women who have served our country, we are reminded of the important responsibility our public workforce system has of serving the employment needs of the veterans in the South Central PA region.Stock-Veteran-Salute

A recent study from Prudential noted that veterans name “finding a job” as the greatest challenge in transitioning from military to civilian life. In addition to the challenges of the current job market, one of the greatest difficulties veterans report in finding a job is effectively explaining how their military skills translate to the civilian workforce. Of those surveyed in the report, nearly all believe they have the skills needed to land a job, but many expressed concerns about how to translate their skills to a business environment.

As part of our larger strategic planning process to better understand how we delivery workforce development services to all populations of our region, SCPa Works recently sponsored and convened a veterans roundtable focusing on the topic of connecting veterans to jobs. Here’s some of what we learned:

  • Employment support and connecting veterans or separating service members to jobs is a primary issue of concern to these individuals. At the same time, employers in South Central Pennsylvania are struggling to find individuals with the skills and characteristics veterans have demonstrated.
  • Supportive services are critically important. Not having access to reliable transportation was identified as a major barrier to sustained employment. Securing stable housing, housing transitions, and housing supplies were other specific challenges cited.
  • There are gaps between needs and services, including: how to find work-ready veterans; adequate services and supports; lack of stability in staff of all support or provider organizations; and inventory of resources.
  • There is an appetite within the community of providers to strengthen the network of support and linkages between service providers.

The roundtable confirmed that there is a real need to assist veterans in making the transition from military service to employment or in connecting veterans to jobs. While there may be differing needs between newly returning veterans and those who have been struggling much longer, there is a vast network of support and support services for veterans that the workforce system could leverage. SCPa Works may be well-positioned to connect veterans to the workforce support they need, and also to a broader network of support further enhancing the workforce and economic opportunities for veterans.

To follow-up on this work, SCPa Works will be hosting another veterans roundtable on November 18 – please contact Wanda Jackson (wjackson@scpaworks.org) if you would like more information about it. This is a continuation of a much larger community-wide conversation about how we can better serve our veteran population who served our country, and we look forward to the continued input of our key community partners.

At SCPa Works we salute our service men and women this Veterans Day by helping to connect veterans to a value chain stretching from education to job opportunities and beyond.