Education Wanted, Says Survey

University of Phoenix

www.phoenix.edu/military

University of Phoenix works directly with active-duty servicemembers, reservists, members of the National Guard, veterans, and military spouses to help them balance deployments, relocations, and training schedules while obtaining their degrees. S tudents can access classes online and at more than 100 physical locations.

The university values the experience and perspective that men and women with military backgrounds bring into the classroom. Through their participation in class discussions and group and individual projects, other classmates have an opportunity to learn from their experiences and how they impact the civilian world. The university employs hundreds of veterans and military spouses. These individuals help military students with different aspects of their education process, including enrollment, finance options, and academics.

A November 2014 University of Phoenix national military survey suggests that, although the veteran unemployment rate continues to decline, many veterans may actually be underemployed. About 61 percent of past servicemembers who have held civilian jobs said they have been, or currently are in, jobs beneath their skill sets. Forty-two percent of past servicemembers who are currently employed say they are working in jobs today that are beneath their skill sets.

Seventy-two percent said they accepted a position because they were unemployed and needed a job. The online survey of more than 1,000 adults who are serving or have served in the U.S. military was conducted on behalf of University of Phoenix by Harris Poll in October 2014.

“Servicemembers cultivate skills in the military that are invaluable to civilian employers,” said Garland Williams, vice president of the university’s Military Division and a retired United States Army colonel. “Veterans bring diverse experience to the workplace, but may not know how to specifically market the skills they gained in the military for civilian jobs – and employers may not instinctively know how the skills translate. The good news is there are significant national efforts underway to help bridge this gap, including some exciting veteran employment programs developed by Corporate America.”

The survey found that only 34 percent of veterans made a military-to-civilian transition plan. But more of today’s servicemembers today understand the need for a plan. In fact, more than 62 percent of active-duty personnel said they have made a transition plan.

“It is so important for our men and women in uniform who are finishing their military tenure to start early with the transition process,” said Williams. “Servicemembers should research careers, determine necessary skills, and talk to others who have made the transition to help ensure they find career options that maximize their unique skill sets.”

The national focus on military hiring and the lower unemployment rates may be spurring more confidence among active duty servicemembers that their skills will translate to civilian jobs. In fact, 81 percent of active-duty servicemembers said that they believed a great deal – or a lot – of the skills they developed in the military would be used in civilian jobs once they separate from active duty. In a survey conducted in 2013, only 45 percent said that. However, in the 2014 survey, when past servicemembers were asked about their first civilian jobs after separation from the military, only 29 percent said that they used their military skills to that extent in the civilian workplace.

“Advanced planning can help servicemembers think critically about how to best position their skills and experience to meet the specific needs of employers,” said Williams. “The military has a ‘we’ vs. ‘me’ mentality that benefits employers who hire veterans. However, the focus on teamwork can also lead service members to minimize their personal achievements in interviews and on resumes. In this highly competitive job market, service members need to be prepared to promote their accomplishments and make direct connections between their experience and the skills required for specific jobs.”

Many active-duty servicemembers and veterans recognize the benefits of education in closing skills gaps. In fact, roughly 90 percent of active-duty servicemembers are currently pursuing education or plan to go back to school at some point. Some 35 percent are currently doing so, and 37 percent plan to go back to school within the next two years.

This article appeared in the September-October 2015 issue of Search & Employ Magazine