In a Washington Post story about the ribbon-cutting on a Veterans Employment Program Office within the federal Office of Personnel Management, agency director John Berry says the best way to honor vets on this Veterans Day is to hire them.
The new office is designed to put more veterans to work in federal government. There, they can search for federal jobs using the government's online database, work with job counselors and get help writing resumes.
A federal ruling last week also should help veteran applicants. The Merit Systems Protection Board found that the Federal Career Intern Program violated the statutory preference given veterans in government hiring. Post columnist Joe Davidson writes that this program does not bring in students as the word "intern" would suggest, but it was used by many agencies to fill positions that were not publicly advertised. He quotes the ruling this way:
Untold numbers of veterans are potentially being shut out of job opportunities for which they would have preference, because the agencies are filling the positions under FCIP without public notice.
With unemployment among veterans at 8.3 percent, they're actually doing better than the populace at large, where the rate is 9.6 percent. Yet that compares with a rate of 4.3 percent among tech pros. Meanwhile, IT topped a list by LinkedIn of the top industries where veterans work (among its users, of course). However, telecommunications, financial services, law and computer software all ranked higher than government.
As blogger Mike Vizard points out, though, government desperately needs to review the way it uses IT. With all the tales of projects monstrously over budget and incessant cyber attacks on government systems, it's obvious that government desperately needs veterans with IT skills and those veterans need jobs. That looks like a win-win situation.
But as my colleague Ann All points out, Uncle Sam has to find a way to make government work attractive to younger workers because more than 16,400 federal technology workers will be eligible to retire by 2012.