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I read an article in the Washington Post about the growing demand for cyber security experts.   Companies mentioned in the article stated that there were far more openings than there were people qualified to fill them.  Both the government and the contractors who support the government seek to hire people with cyber security training, with one expert estimating 50,000 positions needing to be filled in the next few years.  And, being the government, you can bet that many of these positions will require a security clearance.

The employers in the article described how hard it was to compete for the relatively few college grads who major in computer science, since Google, Microsoft, Oracle and other tech firms are also wooing them, and typically at higher salaries.  What wasn’t mentioned here, but I have seen in similar articles, is that these employers typically resort to either leaving roles unfilled longer, or paying head hunters to find passive candidates, or they import the talent from overseas – all options that cost significant time and money.  Not to mention the additional cost and time to obtain security clearances for these hires.

It continues to amaze me that companies would rather spend their money in a way that they cannot control, rather than in a way that they can control.  If companies would instead focus on developing on-the-job training (OJT) programs or work/study programs AND market those programs to transitioning military and veterans, they could:

  • Grow their own talent pipeline, controlling hiring costs and hiring projections
  • Leverage the security clearances many service members already have, or can possibly obtain more readily than a civilian, thereby controlling costs
  • Take advantage of the active military’s relocation benefit, to place cyber security experts where they are needed, reducing relocation costs
  • Stay in the good graces of the Office of Federal Contracts Compliance Programs (OFCCP), avoiding fines or loss of contracts
  • Provide great paying jobs to veterans who are inclined to continue serving their country in a different capacity
  • Create opportunities for veterans with disabilities, as this work typically is done in an office environment
  • And, leverage the great technical and analytical skills that service members already posses by nature of the work they’ve done in the military and the sophisticated equipment and systems they have been trained to use

And, it’s not just cyber security.  Manufacturing, supply chain, operations – there are so many job categories out there for which an employers could develop a pipeline of talent, simply by committing to develop OJT programs and market them to veterans.  There is money available to you to create these programs, either through your state workforce investment act funds or through the GI Bill.

If you have questions on how to find money to create OJT programs, or any question on how to recruit or retain veterans, I encourage you to attend an upcoming “Ask the Military Recruiting Expert” session.  It is free and is offered twice a month, via web seminar.

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