Exactly one year after GE (NYSE:GE) and the Manufacturing Institute launched the Get Skills to Work (GSTW) Coalition to train military veterans for advanced manufacturing jobs, the State of Illinois announced that it is the first state in the nation to join the coalition.
As a statewide initiative under this coalition, Illinois will team up with participating community colleges and the Illinois Manufacturers‚Äô Association to train recently returned veterans and locate employers looking to hire them.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said the program would help the state‚Äôs returning service members pick up the skills they need for getting back into the workforce.
Russell Stokes, president and CEO of GE Transportation, said advanced manufacturing has an undeniably important role in the U.S. economy, and it was necessary to ensure that today‚Äôs workforce will be able to meet tomorrow‚Äôs demands so as to maintain the nation‚Äôs competitive edge.
Stokes said veterans embody characteristics that make for great employees. He said veterans have integrity, leadership experience and they are results-oriented. Stokes added that the statewide partnership with Illinois was a major milestone on the program‚Äôs first anniversary.
As a part of the statewide coalition‚Äôs efforts, the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) and Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) will work with industry partners and participating educational institutions to support veterans in their transition from the military to a career in advanced manufacturing.
Get Skills to Work was launched on Oct 15, 2012, to be managed by the Manufacturing Institute, and supported through grants and in-kind contributions by founding industry members GE, Alcoa Inc., Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
The initial commitments were aimed at helping 15,000 veterans translate their military experience into corresponding opportunities in advanced manufacturing while picking up the technical skills required for their new career in the fast-growing sector.
At that time, the coalition said they were seeking additional partners to meet their goal of assisting 100,000 veterans by 2015. In May 2013, GSTW announced that 190 new manufacturers had signed up to assist their work and hire veterans.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is also now a part of the coalition, as is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Center for Innovation.
There are more than 1.9 million unemployed veterans nationwide, and the 600,000 open jobs in the manufacturing sector will have a key role in helping these veterans rejoin the workforce.