How National Guard members and veterans can help close the Skills Gap in manufacturing

Steve Nowlan, spoke on behalf of the American Jobs for America’s Heroes Campaign about the potential of reducing the manufacturing skills shortage by hiring highly trained National Guard members and veterans.


At a May 6 One Voice for Manufacturing press conference on the manufacturing skills gap held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC , Center for America President, Steve Nowlan, spoke on behalf of the American Jobs for America’s Heroes Campaign about the potential of reducing the manufacturing skills shortage by hiring highly trained National Guard members and veterans.

U.S. manufacturers are struggling with the problem of the "skills gap"—employers looking to hire, but unable to find qualified, skilled workers. Adding to the problem, three million employees are expected to retire in the next decade. The Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) and the National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) report that 74% of recently surveyed members currently have skilled job openings. In addition, 90% of survey respondents are experiencing severe or moderate challenges recruiting qualified employees. With many technology programs at secondary and post-secondary schools having closed in recent years, there are not enough young people gaining the skills needed to fill these essential roles.

The American Jobs for America’s Heroes Campaign was launched in 2011, in alliance with the Army National Guard, to encourage businesses to post job listings for distribution to military employment counselors for unemployed Guard and service members. More than 155 trade and business organizations, including NTMA and PMA, are involved in the effort to publicize the campaign to member companies.

In his remarks, Nowlan emphasized that many employers do not realize the extent of the training and personal development programs the Guard and other military branches provide for their guard and service members that would make them excellent employees in the private sector.

“The practical fact is that the military has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the job readiness of these Guard members and veterans that gives them an advanced starting point for civilian employment,” Nowlan said.

According to Nowlan, two key reasons stand out as to why employers aren’t recognizing these attributes and increasing military hiring: a lack of knowledge of how to become effective in military hiring, and a lack of gap training programs that would help Guard members and veterans transition their skills smoothly into the civilian workforce.

Nowlan stressed that employers need learn how a candidate’s military training and experience can translate into filling their company’s job requirements, and invest in effective gap training programs. He noted that veterans and Guard members typically fund their training through GI Bill tuition reimbursement, or through scholarships many programs and companies offer for those who do not have the bill.

The campaign believes strongly that veterans and Guard members have the potential to be highly effective employees, and should be a significant consideration in the hiring efforts of manufacturers.

“Hiring our Guard members and vets will be a win-win for everyone and go a long way toward both solving the skills shortage and demonstrating respect for the qualities our military service members have been putting to work on behalf of our country.”

For more information about American Jobs for America’s Heroes, please visit or contact Steve Nowlan, President, Center for America at SNowlan(at) or 201-513-0379.

-Edited by Brittany Merchut, Project Manager, CFE Media, bmerchut(at)

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