Study: Returning vets believe they have the skills to help manufacturing

Military personnel think their high-tech training will be an asset to manufacturing


A new survey released in conjunction with the creation of the Get Skills to Work coalition finds that veterans returning from military service believe their skills will translate well into the private sector, but don’t believe the private sector feels the same way.

GE and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University released the results of their ‘Voice of Veterans’ survey Monday to coincide with the announcement of the coalition between GE, Alcoa, Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The four companies, working with the Manufacturing Institute, have developed the Get Skills to Work program to help train and deploy returning veterans for manufacturing jobs.

The survey found that 76% of U.S. veterans and active duty military preparing to transition to civilian life are confident they can be successful in their private-sector careers. But 66% said they believe the skills they gained in military service are undervalued by private sector employers.

More than 1,000 veterans and active duty personnel under the age of 45 took part in the survey. They said they want the same kind of training they received in the military, and believe their background and existing skills will translate well into private sector employment.

“What stands out in this data is that veterans are motivated to make a difference beyond their military careers. Given their contributions, we must pay attention to the unique challenges and opportunities they face as they navigate the transition to civilian life,” said Mike Haynie, founder and executive director, IVMF. “There is a lot we can do to match the desire to work in dynamic, rewarding industries with training that creates a pathway for success.”

“The U.S. manufacturing industry is growing, and we stand ready to provide our military veterans with the training, education and mentorship they are seeking to build long-term, well-paying careers that make a positive difference in the world,” said Frank Taylor, chief security officer of GE. “The skills earned in the U.S. Armed Forces translate to today’s sophisticated, highly technical manufacturing industry, and we are confident that working together with America’s heroes, we are poised to drive American competitiveness.” 

Key findings:

  • 76% of young veterans are confident they can be successful in their careers, despite the many challenges faced when transitioning to civilian life; and this confidence level increases with age
  • 66% feel their skills are undervalued. Unparalleled work ethic, leadership, teamwork, discipline, and dedication are translatable skills they have to offer the civilian workforce
  • 70% believe the skills they earned in the military align with a job in the manufacturing industry
  • 79% are motivated to find educational opportunities to help them find and advance their civilian career
  • Work/school balance (48%) and financial burdens (35%) pose barriers to their pursuit of education
  • 76% want a civilian career that makes a positive difference in the world
  • 78% seek a career that fills them with a sense of pride
  • 62% believe that companies have a responsibility to provide veterans with opportunities to enter and succeed in the civilian job market. 

The Get Skills to Work coalition’s goal is to bolster the talent pipeline, enhance American competitiveness and give our nation’s veterans the skills and tools they need to compete for the jobs of the future. Coalition partners include The Manufacturing Institute, GE, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Alcoa Inc. LinkedIn, Futures Inc., Atlantic Council, the Gary Sinise Foundation and Techshop.

For more information about the Get Skills to Work coalition, visit

Edited by CFE Media.

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