Unemployment among the current generation of veterans is between 2.5% and 7% higher for our most recent vets than for the rest of the population. But how can this be when so many companies are pledging to hire veterans?
The short answer is many companies that are looking for veterans aren't getting their offers in front of those seeking jobs. The longer answer is that many veterans have a hard time putting into civilian terms the myriad experiences and job skills they developed in the military.
One local solution is the October 19th Veteran Career and Education Fair from 9:00am to 3:30pm being hosted by the Ladies Auxiliary to Cantigny VFW, 826 Horseshoe Drive in Joliet. This event is bringing together employers who offer preferential hiring and veterans seeking a company that recognizes the unique skill set and value of adding those with military experience to their workforce.
In addition to more than two dozen local and national firms, the State of Illinois Department of Central Management Services will be bringing it’s full mobile testing facility, along with personnel to help find and apply for a job within the various departments of the State of Illinois. Normally, applying for a job with any department in the state requires a trip to downtown Chicago, Springfield or Champaign. Having the testing in Joliet is a rare and not to be missed opportunity.
Another unique offering is a series of free workshops entitled, “The Art of Translation”. The number one hurdle for veterans seeking civilian employment is how to transfer their military experience into terms employers understand. The workshops are being led by Adam Thomas, author of Career Planning and Development:Placing Yourself into Successful Positions and founder of Ikonovation, a business consulting firm. Mr. Thomas will teach attendees how to effectively communicate, on resumes and in writing their skills and experiences so they can compete for the jobs and careers they deserve.
Not everyone is ready for a career. Some simply want a job to pay the bills while they go to school or get back into the swing of being a civilian. For this reason, there will be employers offering temp, warehouse and hourly jobs as well. But unlike too many career fairs, these will not be the only, or even primary employers and agencies there. Each and every employer has been specifically invited and selected, based on their commitment to our military and veterans. Even if you aren't looking for a job, it might be nice to come, just to be in the same room with people who honor and respect your service.
For those who aren’t yet sure what they want to do with their post-military life, five of the area top schools will be on hand. Each of these schools are familiar with the challenges faced by those transitioning back to civilian life and offer many programs specifically tailored to veterans. Between Joliet Junior College, Lewis University, University of Illinois, Universal Technical Institute and Ohio Technical College, no matter your intended field of study, there is a program certain to fill your needs.
In addition, staff will be on hand to help explain how to use one of the best-kept secrets of military higher education funding, the Illinois Veteran Grant. In short, it allows for up to 120 hours of post-secondary education to Illinois residents above and beyond the Post 9/11 Bill or any other military education benefits.
No veteran fair would be complete without representatives from various veteran service organizations. The Will County Veterans Assistance Commission, one of the partners of the event along with Joliet Junior College and Lewis University, will be in attendance. As will the Grundy County VAC, IDES, The Vet Center and others. With the current government shutdown, the ongoing furloughs and force reduction, the need for assistance and programs is greater than ever. These organizations and others stand ready to help.
Preregistration for the event is not necessary, but it is highly recommended both for the “Art of Translation” workshops and for CMS testing. Remaining spaces are extremely limited, but waitlist are available if the workshop you select is booked.For more information and to register, go to www.vfw367.org.
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