In September 2017, the veteran unemployment rate was 3.0 percent, compared to 4.0 percent for non-veterans. And while this is a major improvement for the veteran community, the need for successful job attainment still remains. William Metheny, Director of the Office of Field Operations for the US Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service shares the importance of early preparation for the transition from military to civilian life. This discussion continues in part 2 of Active Military Apprenticeship.
Interview recorded Oct 11, 2017. Hosted by Robert Traynham.
Read a partial transcript of this interview below
Robert Traynham: This past September, the unemployment rate for all US veterans dropped to three percent, a 16 year low.
Hello and welcome to Comcast Newsmakers. I’m Robert Traynham. Joining me is Bill Metheny, Director of the Office of Field Operations for the US Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service.
Bill, welcome to the program.
Bill Metheny: Thanks Robert.
Robert Traynham: Let’s talk about this unemployment rate. That’s a good thing that I just mentioned a few moments ago, but there is always room for improvement, is that correct?
Bill Metheny: Sure, we’re very excited that we’re down to 3.0% and it’s better than [00:00:30] the non-veteran counterpart. So, we’re existed about that, but we know that there’s still some folks out there that are struggling to get jobs, and so that’s what we want to do in the Department of Labor and especially in the veterans’ community through Veterans’ Employment and Training Service.
Robert Traynham: Okay, let’s talk about the mission and the scope of your organization within the Department of Labor. What exactly do you do Bill?
Bill Metheny: Well what we do is, we focus on the Veteran Community and try to do whatever we can to help them get ready for jobs, get employed and then stay retained in those jobs. So, we have a few ways [00:01:00] we do that. As people are leaving the military we help prepare them for those civilian jobs, and that’s both the service members and their military spouses.
Robert Traynham: Could I pause there a second. You said something that’s really interesting. So, they’re still in uniform and you’re working as they transition out. They’re not technically veterans’ yet?
Bill Metheny: That’s right, and so we know that for them to be successful that preparation has to start early and so, we wanna get them as early as possible into the mindset and the preparation for when they take those boots off so they’re ready to move right into civilian employment.
Robert Traynham: When you [00:01:30] say mind set, what exactly do you mean?
Bill Metheny: Well, our service members go through a pretty rigorous program to become part of the military and that culture and all those values. We don’t want them to give that up at all. Instead, we want them to build on that and transition back into civilian life. How they describe themselves, how they interact and so, we want them to start thinking about that in advance, rather than waiting till the last moment and then being surprised by how different some things might be in the work place.
Robert Traynham: Bill, does it matter in your career [00:02:00] in the military? Can you be perhaps maybe 50 years old and transitioning out? Perhaps maybe 25 years old and maybe transitioning out? Does it matter?
Bill Metheny: Well, it’s a transition no matter where you are, and our younger service members face an interesting challenge, because some of them may have not had much experience in the work place before joining the military. So, this is a new experience for them, and then our older veterans’ may have been in the military for 20 or 30 years and when they left the work place and put their boots on, it’s a very different place. [00:02:30] So, we wanna help them wherever they are in their careers.
Robert Traynham: I’m curious, why is this the Housing Department of Labor?
Bill Metheny: Well, the Department of Labor is what the US government has designed to support labor needs and employment needs across the country. So, we Veterans’ Employment Training Service are a subset that focuses on that veteran community, but takes advantage of this network enterprise that all of the Department of Labor can bring to bear to help these military members, veterans’ and their spouses.