NEWS + ADVICE
How to Gain Qualified Cleared Talent with DoD SkillBridge
Those preparing to leave active duty for civilian employment opportunities are looking for real-world professional experience. On the other side of the coin, “A lot of companies who work in the defense space have billets that require skills that you really only find inside the military,” says Bill Crowder, Talent Acquisition Lead at Jacobs.
How do we bring these two groups together and meet everyone’s needs? The DoD SkillBridge program offers a win-win solution to all involved—connecting service members to civilian career opportunities, and delivering early access to the skilled talent employers need.
Service members can gain valuable experience in the civilian world through SkillBridge industry training, apprenticeships, or internships during their last 180 days of service. This gives participating employers access to skilled and motivated active duty service members at no cost.
If you’re a 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 legacy Novetta, now the National Security Portfolio of Accenture Federal Services.
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.
“SkillBridge is a fantastic way for the transitioning military pool to test drive the areas that they’re interested in entering,” says Kirsten Renner, Senior Recruiting Manager at legacy Novetta. “The best way to learn is on the ground. So instead of just reading about it or being spoken to in a classroom, they’re learning in the field, the same way they do in the military.”
These service members not only gain real-world professional experience, but also the opportunity to adjust to the civilian sector before their official military exit. “Sometimes transitioning service members can be caught off guard by the way the civilian industry works,” admits Crowder. “The six months they spend in SkillBridge, learning the way that the civilian industry works, gives them the ability to make that transition a little bit easier.”
As a transition training program, SkillBridge boosts participants’ marketability and civilian career prospects by growing their skills and resume with invaluable experience. “Once they do finally transition, ideally their host employer would have taught them, trained them, and prepared them in every way possible to be successful to get hired onto their host company or a similar company,” adds Crowder.
How Employers Benefit
In order for service members to participate in SkillBridge, the program relies on industry partners like Jacobs, legacy Novetta, and Accenture Federal Services. Participating employers like these offer 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.
“SkillBridge allows a company to pipeline qualified talent that they would not be able to find otherwise,” says Crowder. “If they are not participating in SkillBridge, then they have to wait until these perspective candidates fully separate from the military in order to hire them. You get a six month heads up to be able to work with these perspective candidates that have highly desirable skillsets.”
Renner adds, “SkillBridge has had a tremendous impact on increasing reach, to not just the military in general, but to the passive pool of people that you can’t otherwise reach. People who recruitment wouldn’t have necessarily found on a job board, because they don’t have their resumes out there yet, are seeing us on the DoD SkillBridge site and reaching out to us.”
In addition to pipelining qualified talent, Bill Crowder also noted that SkillBridge helps with the diversity aspect of hiring as well. “The military is one of the most diverse groups and populations that you could possibly pull from,” says Crowder. “Participating in SkillBridge gives a prospective company a competitive advantage to be able to access those skillsets and demographics before anybody else possibly could.”
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. “So far in 2021, we’ve hired approximately 30 fellows,” says Renner. “Legacy Novetta has the intention of converting all their fellows into full time employees and has a pretty good track rate of around 90% to date.”
Successful recruitment is a necessity to any cleared employer, especially when it’s a candidates’ market, but retention is also a top priority. “The SkillBridge platform provides a transitioning service member the opportunity to ‘try before you buy’ on a prospective company,” explains Crowder. “I think statistics will eventually show that candidates who accept an offer letter after their SkillBridge internship will stay longer than transitioning service members who do not go through SkillBridge.”
Become 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.
“From last year to now, we’ve seen quite a number of our government customers become more and more open, and start requesting SkillBridge candidates moving forward,” says Crowder. “Not only is it a success story on the candidate side, but it also helps the bottom line and the company as well. I believe it’s going to grow at an exponential rate moving forward, because of the successes that SkillBridge has had thus far.”
When asked what the best thing about participating in the SkillBridge program is, Kirsten Renner explained that as an Army mom she wants to do everything she can for the military community. SkillBridge contributes to that mission. She added, “Training and creating opportunities for transitioning service members is and always will be a number one priority for us. Everyone at Legacy Novetta as well as Quincy Harper, head of military recruitment at Accenture Federal Services, feels the same way.”
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.