(BPT) - Today, veterans are returning to civilian life by the tens of thousands, eager to apply their highly refined talents in sustainable careers. Yet, national employment numbers reflect the challenges veterans face in pursuit of this goal. The September Bureau of Labor Statistcs unemployment rate for Gulf War Era II veterans decreased to 5 percent, which is the same for both men and women. Overall unemployment for all Veterans over 18 years old is at 4.3 percent (4.1 percent for men, and 5.9 percent for women). Overall unemployment stands at 5.1 percent. The only segment where veteran unemployment is worse than general population unemployment is women veterans (5.9 percent vs 5 percent). The improvement in veteran unemployment suggests veteran hiring programs implemented by companies such as Prudential are having a real impact helping service members transition to civilian employment.
Throughout its long history, Prudential has had a deep appreciation for the service and sacrifices of veterans. In 2010, the company established The Office of Veterans Initiatives to help prepare military service members and their spouses for meaningful careers. Headed by Chuck Sevola, a former communications officer in the U.S. Army and staffed by veterans, Veterans Initiatives works to strengthen relationships with corporations, nonprofit organizations and government agencies so they can collectively provide educational and employment opportunities to veterans and their families.
'Veterans bring significant value to the workforce, including practiced leadership skills, discipline, the ability to perform in stressful situations, and a solid work ethic,' says Sevola. 'We recognize the sacrifices made every day by these men and women and believe their experience and leadership can only make our company stronger.'
Veterans Initiatives established VETalent, a partnership between Prudential and Workforce Opportunity Services, a nonprofit organization that helps companies build strong talent pipelines through unique work-study programs. VETalent, a nine-month work-study program, prepares veterans and spouses of active duty service members for careers in information technology, sales and business operations. Participants receive extensive job training and classroom work followed by on-the-job training to qualify for full-time career opportunities with Prudential or other companies.
When the VETalent members graduate from the program, they work as full-time consultants for Prudential, after which time they become eligible for full-time employment offers from the company. To date, Prudential has hired 88 veterans and/or spouses from VETalent and another 192 have been hired by other companies. In addition, another 40 veterans and/or military spouses are in active programs at Prudential and other 82 are in programs with other companies, helping to earn the company the recognition of 'Top 100 Military Friendly Employers' and 'Best for Vets' for six consecutive years.
Since its inception in Newark, New Jersey in 2010, VETalent has expanded to additional Prudential sites in Dubuque, Iowa with Northeast Iowa Community College, Dresher/Ft. Washington, Pennsylvania with Penn State-Abington University; Jacksonville, Florida with the University of North Florida; Hartford/Shelton, Connecticut with Western Connecticut State University; Roseland/Newark, New Jersey with Rutgers University and New Jersey Institute of Technology; and El Paso, Texas with El Paso Community College. The program also has been implemented by 26 other companies across 20 additional locations.
Service members who will be leaving the military soon and those who have an interest in information technology or business careers can visit www.wforce.org/veterans/program-overview and www.prudential.com/veterans to learn more about the VETalent program or about Prudential's other programs for Veterans.