Veterans Getting Free Training For 'New Collar' Jobs

Feb 17, 2017

It’s estimated the high tech industry will create more than 200,000 "new collar” jobs in the next three years. To fill those positions, IBM is tapping into a workforce that’s already well trained - veterans.

“We need to get people to hit the ground running and be productive,” said Tampa IBM executive Stuart Bean. “And you just can’t fill them unless you have people who are already disciplined, already trained, mature enough, (and) can hit the ground running.”

The company created its Veteran Employment Accelerator. It’s a week of free, intense training on IBM’s i2 Notebook Analyst software, which is widely used to detect and track fraud. The veterans can earn a certification at the end of the class and get help finding a job. That position could be with IBM or one of the initiative's eight partner companies: American Express, Chase, Citi, Boeing, USAA, TD Bank, PNC and Aetna.

The first veterans' training session in 2017 was held at Tampa’s IBM offices in late January. Angela Covey drove all the way from Baton Rouge to attend. She served seven years in the Marine Corps. But most recently, she was working at LSU and got laid off.

Covey was desperate to find work, despite having filled out 300 job applications online.  She said she didn't get one call for an in-person interview.

“Even applying to USA Jobs with a veteran’s preference or state jobs, it wasn’t hitting the mark. Nobody was saying ‘I really want to talk to you about your experience,’” Covey said. “It was just checking a box. Well IBM and Corporate America did.”

IBM partnered with Corporate America Supports You, CASY, a non-profit organization that matches veterans with careers in high-growth industries.

CASY handles job placements and IBM Vice President Diane Melley said her company provides training, certification and the tracking software that matches veterans’ skills with open positions in the industry.

“(These are) jobs that are giving them gainful employment and putting them on a career path, not just a job,” Melley said. “And...it’s a little tricky with logistics. That’s why you see our training calendar all over the country, because we don’t want to train someone in Virginia Beach and say your job is in Pittsburgh.”

IBM Tampa executive Stuart Bean talking to the veterans in training.

The next two training sessions are in March in Las Vegas and Baton Rouge. IBM offers 20 sessions a year in the U.S., five in Canada and five in the United Kingdom.

And the veterans are eager to learn. IBM trainer Megan McCollum said she saw it in Tampa, when she asked the veterans to stay late.

“I’ve never had a class so willing, okay, that’s what we’re going to do, we were having fun, laughing and learning,” McCollum said.

Her fellow trainer John Ciccone said the software is a tool that can be used in a wide range of fields from monitoring financial fraud and human trafficking to cyber security.

“One tool they’ve left with is leverage and the ability to get their foot in doors, places,” Ciccone said.

Veteran Steve Blackstone, another certified graduate from the Tampa class, said he conducted criminal and intelligence investigations during his 21-year Air Force career. And he just completed an internship with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.

Blackstone, who has had other analysis training, said the IBM software is a valuable tool for diving into data.

“I’m not sure how much this class cost, but I’ve attended some other trainings, and a seat (in those classes) would be $4,000-5,000 depending on the tool,” Blackstone said.

He called the Analyst Notebook software a “force multiplier” – that’s military term where more gets done with the same amount of effort. And Blackstone hopes that “force multiplier” will also apply to the job placement as well because he’s looking.

CASY has identified almost 500 Military Operational Specialties (MOS) that translate into the skills that the high tech industry requires. Details are available here.