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DoD SkillBridge: A New Source for Qualified Cleared Talent

Posted by Ashley Preuss
DoD SkillBridge

Employment is a two-way street. Professionals need employers to gain employment, and employers need professionals to get the job done. In the government contracting space, cleared facilities employers are hungry for highly trained veteran talent. And transitioning service members who are preparing to seek civilian employment opportunities are hungry for real-world professional experience. This is where the DoD SkillBridge program comes into play—turning that two-way street into an efficient highway that delivers early access to skilled talent entering the civilian labor force.

To sum up the DoD SkillBridge program, it connects transitioning service members to career training opportunities. Service members can gain valuable real-world experience in the civilian world through industry training, apprenticeships, or internships during their last 180 days of service. And on the other side of the table, participating employers and industry partners gain access to skilled and motivated active duty service members at no cost, as the DoD pays salary and benefits while service members participate in the program.

If you’re an active duty service member or an employer interested in what the DoD SkillBridge program has to offer, find out more about the merits of the program with the insights below, including feedback from participating industry partners, Jacobs and Novetta.

How SkillBridge Works for Service Members

The SkillBridge program helps service members bridge the gap between their military exit and the beginning of their civilian careers. Participants can use up to the last 180 days of service to train and learn with an industry partner, while they continue to receive military compensation and are covered by military benefits. As these individuals look beyond the military and plan for what comes next, SkillBridge offers the opportunity to get ahead of the game and meet their goals more quickly.

SkillBridge participants are able to start adjusting to the civilian sector before their official military exit arrives. “You can’t say enough about the value of getting to test drive,” says Kirsten Renner, Senior Director of Recruiting, Novetta. “There’s no better way to figure things out and be less afraid of or reluctant about working in the civilian sector, than to just dive right in and do it.”

As a transition training program, SkillBridge boosts participants’ marketability and civilian career prospects by growing their skills and resume with real-world job experience. “Seeing someone who qualifies for our contracts and also has that SkillBridge internship tells me as a recruiter and hiring manager that they not only have the skillset required, but they’ve also got some civilian or defense contract experience under their belt already,” says Bill Crowder, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist, Jacobs. “So it gives them a competitive edge over someone without a SkillBridge experience on their resume.”

If you’re preparing for your military transition, don’t underestimate the opportunity to work and learn in a civilian career capacity. “I 100% recommend that active duty service members that are interested in joining the civilian workforce should consider this program and figure out within their command how to get involved,” urges Kirsten Renner.

APPLYING FOR SKILLBRIDGE

All ranks of military personnel are eligible for SkillBridge, but they must be able to complete the program within their last 180 days of service and also obtain written authorization from their unit Commander. While not mandatory, it’s recommended that participants complete as much of their transition program as possible before starting SkillBridge so that they have an understanding of their options after the military.

If you’re interested in applying for SkillBridge, find a program that interests you here and consult with your local SkillBridge Program Manager. If you’re deployed or don’t have access to a SkillBridge Program Manager, you can submit an online request for assistance. Then be sure to obtain written approval from your unit commander.

How Employers Play a Part

For service members to participate in SkillBridge-related industry training, apprenticeships, and internships, the program relies on industry partners like Jacobs and Novetta. Participating employers like these offer real-world training and experience to SkillBridge interns, while benefitting from the unique skills and traits that military members bring to the table.

Roughly 200,000 service members transition out of the military each year and go on to enter the civilian workforce or seek higher education. SkillBridge industry partners get early access to these individuals, as service members matching their specific needs are able to train, learn, and work with them before terminating from active duty. “So it’s really like a test drive on both sides, which is fantastic,” says Kirsten Renner. “And it doesn’t cost the company anything because the DoD is paying them.”

While these industry partners support our military members through training and real-world work experience, they also have the opportunity to evaluate the service members and offer permanent positions after the completion of the program. “The people who come on typically do fantastic work and catch on very quickly,” conveys Bill Crowder. “They more often than not turn into hires.”

Kirsten Renner adds, “This year we hired about 14 people from SkillBridge so far—that’s amazing. It’s definitely made a positive impact on our program.”

The DoD SkillBridge program offers employers the opportunity to catch top talent before they officially enter the civilian workforce. “It develops a strong pipeline of qualified talent that really isn’t found anywhere else, especially for some of our defense contracts,” says Bill Crowder. It’s a win-win for both employers and military job seekers.

BECOMING AN INDUSTRY PARTNER

If you’re interested in becoming an industry partner, be prepared to develop a job training program for service members that will give them essential skills and knowledge to help them transition to civilian employment. Participating employers must also be able to ensure a high probability of a job opening being available at the end of the program, so that you can extend an offer if there’s mutual interest.

Visit the industry partners / employers page for additional information and to complete the inquiry form to get started.

Spread the Word Throughout the Community

The DoD SkillBridge program helps transitioning military learn valuable skills and enhance their future career prospects with real-world experience, while also helping partnering employers to access top talent ahead of schedule and develop a strong talent acquisition pipeline. With so much to offer, you’d imagine SkillBridge would be well known throughout the community to all. But surprisingly some service members, employers, and defense contractors that would benefit from participating don’t know about the opportunity.

Bill Crowder explained that some customers weren’t familiar with the program and were hesitant to bring anyone on to their defense contracts before they found out what the SkillBridge program was all about. After they learned more about it, Bill found it became accepted with open arms and customers loved it.

Whether you’re able to personally participate in the program or you know any service members or companies that fit the bill, see what the DoD SkillBridge program has to offer and help spread the word. Many things in life have some sort of a catch, but in this instance everyone involved benefits. Find out more about DoD SkillBridge here.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 15, 2020 2:24 pm

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