By Pamela Passman
Corporate Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs
Our servicemen and women possess strong leadership and other intangible skills, but many do not have the formal education, technology training and industry recognized certification employers in the private sector seek. In fact, today, nearly 185,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are unemployed.
The Veterans Employment Act of 2010 (S. 3234), a bi-partisan bill introduced by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), will help our veterans develop the skills necessary to secure new employment opportunities. The act would provide entrepreneurial training and counseling, and create pilot programs to test ways transitioning service members can build on the technical skills learned in the military.
Of course, the private sector can also play an important role in easing the transition for our nation’s veterans. Last month in Washington, DC, I announced that Microsoft is forming a coalition of public, private and non-profit organizations to help our country’s veterans and their spouses get the additional skills they need to succeed in today’s economy. The initiative – Elevate America’s Veterans – is an extension of Elevate America, a program Microsoft launched over a year ago. Working in partnership with veterans service organizations and others, Elevate America’s Veterans initiative will provide veterans and their spouses with the support they need to be successful in their transition to civilian careers, including technology skills training, job placement, career counseling and other support services such as childcare, transportation and housing.
With more than half of today’s jobs requiring some technology skills (and the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that this will reach 77 percent in the next decade) , the most viable solutions will pool the resources and expertise of both the public and private sectors to transition and train American veterans for today’s job market.
As part of our commitment, Microsoft is contributing $2 million in funds and up to $6 million in software to support innovative training programs for our veterans. We will soon issue a request for proposals to determine how we will award funds, software and other resources to eligible organizations.
Senator Murray said it best as she introduced her bill, “too often our veterans return home and have their resumes lost in the stack.” At Microsoft we it is important to support our veterans as they move into the private sector and commend Sen. Murray for introducing this important legislation.