Michigan has been suffering from a lack of skilled workers, impacting labor industries ranging from agriculture to construction. Utilizing veterans to their full potential, however, might help alleviate this shortage.
A recent report compiled by the state's Department of Technology, Management and Budget suggested that Michigan's large veteran population, which accounts for 8.8 percent of its adult population, is currently an untapped labor resource. Even though Michigan veterans only have a 44 percent labor participation rate, journalist Rick Haglund, writing for Michigan Live, suggested that returning servicemembers could put their acquired field skills to good use in the state's diverse labor market.
According to the report, veterans in Michigan are well-educated – about 1 in 4 hold a bachelor's degree or higher – and more likely than non-veterans to graduate high school. While veterans have the skills to be major players in the workforce, they might need some extra coaxing.
"We need to ensure our employers understand the value of military service and education," Christine Quinn, director of the state's Workforce Development Agency, told Michigan Live. "And we need to assist our veterans by taking their military experiences and cross-walking them into opportunities that fit the demand from employers."
According to the news source, the federal government has already started implementing programs to incorporate veterans into the labor ranks, including an August 2013 directive from the U.S. Labor Department requiring government contractors to have veterans compose 8 percent of their employees. Meanwhile, Michigan has a "Shifting Heroes" program that provides employment specialists to former servicemembers.