“Every year 78,000 service members will transition out of the military through NC’s DoD installations, adding strength to the 778,000 veterans already living in North Carolina. North Carolina’s businesses strive to support these veterans and service members by leveraging their skills to fill critical talent requirements, but often lack the resources needed to identify and hire qualified military candidates.”
– North Carolina for Military Employment (NC4ME)
With so many veterans making the transition to the civilian workforce, you’d think we’d be better at transitioning them. But for many, the change is so monumental that they struggle to navigate life and work outside the military.
The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a long list of challenges veterans face during their transition to post-military life. Finding and keeping work as a civilian is one of them. Service members have never had to look for a civilian job — much less apply and interview.
Even putting a résumé and cover letter together can seem daunting, especially when service members aren’t sure how the skills they developed in the military translate to skills useful in a civilian role.
On the flip side, businesses that can provide gainful employment often don’t know how to recruit and keep veterans on their payroll, even when they recognize the vast experience veterans bring to the civilian workplace.
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) points out just how significant their contributions are. “Integrating and engaging veterans in the workforce can add substantial value to an organization. Benefits include improved performance and productivity that will directly affect the bottom line, a more flexible and strategically focused workforce, and increased diversity.”
How the Military Impacts NC’s Economy
And it’s not just the civilian workforce that benefits from having skilled veterans participating in it. With six military installations in our state, NC has experienced firsthand the value of the defense industry as a whole.
“The military plays a large role in North Carolina’s economy. The impact of the military on state personal income is $30 billion, and the impact on gross state product is $48 billion. Overall, the military supports roughly 10 percent of economic activity in the state. The estimate varies slightly based on which indicator is used. The large military presence in the state is the primary driver of the total economic impact, but this is supplemented by moderate economic spillovers (one-fifth of total impact) from military operations located in other states.”
Labor & Economic Analysis Division
North Carolina Department of Commerce
How NC’s Workforce Is Poised to Support Military Families
The workforce in North Carolina is uniquely poised to return the favor by supporting military members and their families as they begin to transition to civilian life.
The state boasts more then 21 industries, including the following:
- Accommodation and Food Services
- Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation
- Finance and Insurance
- Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services
- Real Estate and Rental and Leasing
- Transportation and Warehousing
- Wholesale Trade
The Economic Development Partnership of NC (EDPNC) emphasizes that among the many industries represented in NC, those that are key are aerospace and defense; automotive; food processing and manufacturing; information technology; biotechnology and pharmaceuticals; business and financial services; furniture; outdoor recreation; plastics and chemicals; and textiles.
In early 2021, the industries that had risen to the top included retail trade; health care and social assistance; finance and insurance; transportation and warehousing; and public administration – seven private sector companies and three public entities.
Companies in the top 10 (in order of ranking from 1 – 10) were:
- Wal-Mart Associates, Inc.
- Duke University
- Food Lion
- Atrium Health
- Wells Fargo Bank Na (A Corp)
- Amazon Fulfillment Services, Inc.
- Lowes Home Centers, Inc.
- Department of Defense
- Department of Public Safety
- Bank of America
How Service Members Can Apply Their Skills in Civilian Roles
Service members who are transitioning into the workforce have strong skills that make them solid candidates for civilian jobs across industries, but sometimes they’re not sure how those skills transfer.
Rasmussen University points out the value in military discipline and training that results in the ability to lead well, adapt quickly, and collaborate in teams. Integrity, resilience, and critical thinking skills — also built in the military training environment — easily transfer to non-military positions.
How do they transfer?
NC Works put together a list of the most needed skills in today’s workforce. They analyzed the skills most often listed in online job postings and outlined the top 10:
- Customer service skills
- Problem solving
- Attention to detail
- Interpersonal skills
- Ability to work independently
- Decision making skills
- Organizational skills
- Time management
- Conflict management
Look closely at the most needed skills, and it’s easy to see that the proficiencies of veterans meet — and even exceed — them. There’s no doubt the training that military members undergo more than adequately prepares them for jobs outside the defense department.
How NC Supports Veteran Hiring
Recognizing that veterans meet the needs of our workforce, NC has several organizations that support veteran hiring.
“NCWorks is a one-stop online resource for job seekers and employers in North Carolina. Job seekers can search for jobs, create résumés, and find education and training. Employers can find candidates, post jobs, and search labor market information.”
Stop by the NCWorks website, and you’ll find plenty of statistics about the workforce in the state. But you’ll also be able to explore resources for making a career change. Whether veterans transitioning to the civilian workforce simply need help with a cover letter and résumé or more extensive career guidance, the NCWorks Career Centers are standing by to help.
Another resource that supports hiring veterans is North Carolina for Military Employment (NC4ME). NC4ME strives to make NC the top state for military employment, and they do it through a comprehensive public-private partnership.
“Established by the Governor in 2015, NC4ME leverages existing workforce development resources and technology to implement an employer-centric strategy that:
- Educates NC’s business leaders on the value of hiring a military workforce,
- Shows small businesses and human resource professionals how to hire military personnel,
- Connects military talent to open jobs, education, and training opportunities in North Carolina.”
With NC4ME’s help, more than 50% of veterans taking advantage of the support have had job interviews that resulted in second interviews or job offers. More than 1,200 business leaders have been trained on how to find quality military talent, and more than 5,000 have learned the value of hiring that talent.
To learn more about how you can support veterans transitioning to post-military life, visit Defense Alliance of North Carolina.