Dept. of Labor VETS with Assistant Secretary Mike Michaud (Part 1 of 2)

"If you’re a veteran and you go into an American Job Center, you get priority of service. You get put ahead of the line."

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The veteran unemployment rate has remained steady over the past year.  The Dept. of Labor VETS program aims to help keep that rate down with efforts to assist veterans, returning service members and military spouses prepare for meaningful careers.  An interview with Mike Michaud, Assistant Secretary for the Department of Labor Veterans Employment and Training Service (DOL-VETS).  Part 1 of 2.  Click here to go directly to part 2 of this interview.

Visit the Department of Labor VETS on the web or follow on Twitter.

Interview Recorded on October 21, 2016.  Read a transcript of this interview below:

Traynham: According to the Department of Labor, in September of this year, the veteran unemployment rate was 4.3%. For young veterans, unemployment sits at 7.5%, a reduction of almost half over last year. Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Comcast Newsmakers.” Im Robert Traynham. Joining me is Mike Michaud, the Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Labor, Veterans Employment and Training Services. Mr. Secretary, welcome to the program.

Michaud: Its great to be here.

Traynham: It is always good to see you. You know, those numbers that I mentioned a few moments ago, thats good in many ways because the numbers are going down, with respect to unemployment. We always want people to work. Healthy economy, healthy country — its a good thing. But why were the numbers so high in the first place?

Michaud: Well, we had an influx of servicemembers coming back from the war in the drawdown, and at that time, when you look at the economy — Things are going in a great direction, and its because of a collaborative effort that were doing at the Department of Labor Vets to bring those numbers down. And the bulk of it is, if you look at our infrastructure, we have approximately 2,500 American job centers all around the country. Theyre the bricks and mortar of the Department of Labor work-force program.

Traynham: Sure.

Michaud: And when we talk to transitioning servicemembers, we encourage them to go into an American Job Center.

Traynham: We should also mention, Mr. Secretary, that those service centers that you mention are all across the country, in every single state. What exactly do you do in those service centers? Is it résumé-writing skills? Is it interview skills, in terms of role-playing? Is it how to dress for an interview? What do you do, specifically?

Michaud: Actually, all of the above. Yep, they help write a résumé, they help find a job, interview skills, how to dress properly for them, and as I mentioned, theres 2,500 nearly around the country — rural areas, urban areas. And if youre a veteran and you go into an American Job Center, you get priority of service. You get put ahead of the line.

Traynham: Do you really?

Michaud: Yes. And thats — They have been very helpful. And we talk about that when we do the Transition Assistance Program, the TAP class for the transitioning servicemembers as they leave. And you can find the American Job Center by going to veterans.gov, put in the zip code where youre gonna locate. Itll bring you to the nearest American Job Center.

Traynham: Mr. Secretary, we know that when a veteran transitions from military life to civilian life, there is a bureaucracy — in a good way, but also in a not-so-good way, with respect to paperwork — and sometimes the information just becomes overwhelming. How do you simplify not only for the veteran — soon-to-be veteran — but also for his or her spouse and family?

Michaud: Youre absolutely right. There are so many websites out there, so much paperwork. We do everything that we can to simplify it. And if you look at what weve done at the Department of Labor, Veterans Employment Training Service, the go-to site, as it relates to employment, is veterans.gov. We took all federal agencies. Theyre a partner with us. So if youre interested in jobs in the energy sector, transportation, construction area, you can go to the website — small business administration. But we also work with all 50 states and territories. We ask the states, “If you had one click of a button for employment and training services, what would that button look like, that website?” And we worked with NASWA, the National Association of State Workforce Agency, and actually, thats part of our veterans.gov website. So it makes it easier for the transitioning servicemember to find out where theyre going, whats the closest American Job Center. And for businesses, as well — a business, if you want to hire a veteran, one of the things Ive heard over and over again, small businesses — they dont have the HR to hire a veteran, but they want to hire veterans. Within two clicks of the button, under veterans.gov, they can get where they have to go, and the most its taken us so far is two business days for someone to get back in contact with that business.

Traynham: And, Mr. Secretary, that sounds great. It seems like you clearly are eliminating a lot of the red tape.  (END OF PART 1)