Veterans Bring Unique Skills to Your Workplace

Looking for ways to observe Veterans Day on Wednesday? Take an action that will have long-term benefits – both for veterans and for your business. Examine your human resources practices to see how you can recruit and hire more veterans to join your team.

There are more than 43,700 Coloradans serving on active military duty, and more than 400,000 veterans reside in our state. We know that veterans bring transferable knowledge, leadership skills and a strong work ethic, but they continue to face barriers to entering the workforce after they’ve completed their service. According to a study by LinkedIn, veterans are 15.6% more likely to be underemployed than non-veterans.

And, the challenges are more pronounced for some veterans. According to a press release from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, the national unemployment rate is 7.8% for Black veterans, notably higher than the 6.1% rate for white veterans. It’s even higher for younger veterans at 9.4%.

Some of these disparities are due to the “civilian-military divide,” and that many hiring managers don’t understand the meaning of military job titles and experience levels. Also, about 66% of veterans are first-generation college students, so they may not have access to the social capital that many of us have taken for granted to advance our careers.

That’s why professional development programs like Boots to Suits are so important. Through the Chamber’s partnership with the University of Colorado Denver and CU Anschutz Medical Campus, military and veteran students are matched with local mentors to help the students transition from military and college life to business life – from military boots to business suits. This year, 28 companies joined the program to mentor student veterans, host educational workshops, provide on-the-job training and extend job offers.

This is a program that benefits both the students and the companies. The companies are taking advantage of a pipeline of workers who have 2.9 times more work experience and are shown to remain with their initial company 8.3% longer than nonveterans, according to the LinkedIn study.

Boots to Suits is only one example of efforts in Colorado to support veterans seeking employment. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis declared November to be Hire a Veteran First Month. The state’s Hire a Colorado Vet website features virtual resource fairs, hiring events, a jobs database and connections to service providers. We also encourage jobseekers and companies that are hiring to check out our job board, which features job opportunities available in Colorado’s major industries, as well as resources for people seeking apprenticeships or starting their own businesses.

So use this Veterans Day as your motivation to look at your own business and how you can increase opportunities for veterans in our workforce. This is one more way to rebuild our economy, which will help all Coloradans.

Kelly Brough is the president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber.