The implementation of veteran hiring programs at many corporations has been vital to get service members back to work. However, with 1.2 million military personnel returning home from overseas deployment over the next five years, these programs will not be enough. In addition to employing veterans, firms need to review their supplier diversity programs, as well as their staffing and outsourcing procurement efforts, to ensure the proper focus on former service members. For those not on corporate payrolls, these additional initiatives will provide employment opportunities just the same.
Both anecdotal and statistical evidence indicate that veteran unemployment in many areas is higher than unemployment for the general population. Hiring veterans in significant numbers has proven more difficult than most human resources executives expected.
Supplier diversity and vet-focused staffing and outsourcing procurement programs are attractive alternatives because most companies already have these efforts in place. All that may be needed is an emphasis on using firms that employ veterans themselves. Even if efforts have yet to be undertaken, these programs are much easier to launch and quicker to implement than most veteran hiring plans.
Contracting with veteran-focused firms makes good business sense, especially for corporations performing work for state and federal governments, which have set-asides so that a portion of various contracts need to be sub-contracted to small or minority-owned businesses, which includes veteran-owned firms.
Vet-Focused Outsourcing and Staffing
The widespread use among corporate America of veteran-focused outsourcing and temporary staffing firms could put thousands of additional vets to work. Large and midsize corporations around the country hire temporary staff each day – totaling millions a year – to handle everything from manual work to accounting and information technology. They also outsource millions of dollars worth of work as well. Putting thousands – and perhaps even tens of thousands – of veterans to work can be as simple as each company committing a small percentage of those temporary assignments and/or those outsourced projects to support veterans.
The most effective way to find these vet-focused firms is to seek out veteran-owned firms, and even service disabled veteran-owned firms. Many of these firms, such as Veterans Sourcing Group, make a point of employing as many veterans as possible. A good source for information is the National Association of Veteran Owned Businesses.
One of the first steps corporations can take in making a firm-wide commitment to veterans is to diminish the use of “offshoring,” in which projects are outsourced to companies overseas in locations such as India and China. Offshoring was extremely popular in the 1990s as companies realized projects, involving areas such as information technology and call centers, could be handled with inexpensive overseas labor. Companies should consider “rural sourcing” work within the United States instead. Rural sourcing centers, like Veterans Sourcing Group’s facility in Reading, Pa., offer lower overhead and personnel costs than those in major cities to provide a cost-effective alternative.
Additionally, the recently introduced immigration bill could force major changes to the H-1B visa program and make offshoring more expensive and less attractive.
As IT employment increases, and it becomes more difficult to find qualified staff, companies can turn to veteran-owned IT outsourcing firms to meet the talent challenge they face. From April 1, 2012 to April 2013, IT employment increased by 5.1 percent on a year-over-year basis, according to TechServe Alliance, a collaboration of information technology staffing firms, solutions firms, clients, consultants and suppliers.
Showing Commitment Improves Culture
Using veteran-owned staffing and outsourcing firms – especially those with former service members at their disposal – demonstrates that a company is doing all it can to get veterans back into the workforce. For example, in many staffing assignments handled by Veteran Sourcing Group, these temporary staffing placements haven’t technically been part of a firm’s veterans hiring program, but nonetheless helped create a veteran-friendly culture within the organization. The presence of vets, even in temp assignments, keeps the veteran hiring issue top of mind.
Corporate America has three reasons to hire and support the employment of veterans, veteran-owned businesses: They’re hiring quality solutions; employing vets; and keeping jobs in the United States, rather than sent offshore.