Vets at the Ready to Fill Green Industry Jobs
April 24, 2012
By: Connie Blaszczyk, Managing Editor, Resource Center
From wind turbine technicians to solar panel installers, the demand for green industry jobs is growing.
Who is best positioned to fill the demand for these green jobs? Our nation’s Veterans, says John Toth, Senior Director of Veterans Programs at Veterans Green Jobs.
The non-profit organization is calling on all green employers to look at the many benefits that Veterans provide in helping fill green industry jobs.
The organization’s Veterans Green Force program matches Veterans’ military experience and career interests to the skills needed by green sector employers, linking them to training and educational programs and ultimately available green jobs.
The program has already trained and placed hundreds of Veterans in outdoor conservation and home energy efficiency jobs.
We spoke with Lieutenant Colonel (Retired, U.S. Army) John Toth from the Veterans Green Jobs’ Denver headquarters.
MONSTER: How can Veterans Green Jobs help employers find the talent they need — particularly growing companies that have larger hiring needs?
TOTH: We go out and connect with Veterans, sit down with them one-on-one, learn their job skills and career goals, and then match them with employers. We want to build relationships with both the Veteran and the employers to meet both their needs
MONSTER: What are some of the success stories you’ve facilitated in matching Veteran’s skills with the green job industry?
TOTH: Dan Conerd is one of our success stories. He came to us two years ago and we recommended he look into the solar degree program at Red Rocks Community College. Recently, after earning his diploma, he returned to us and we were able to find him a job with one of our industry partners — Namaste Solar.
MONSTER: What are some of the new job opportunities you’re seeing for hiring Veterans in green technology jobs?
TOTH: There really are multiple opportunities out there, depending on your skill set and you career goals. When people think of green industry, they think in terms of solar and wind power. The reality is that there are many different avenues Veterans can pursue including recycling, green builders, energy efficiency, natural gas distribution, and green agriculture.
MONSTER: What job skills do Veterans possess that align with green industry jobs?
TOTH: Veterans have a strong work ethic, a team oriented approach, an ability to adapt to adverse conditions, and a desire to continue giving back to the community.
MONSTER: Does military training and experience enable Veterans to hit the ground running in a new job?
TOTH: I think it does in terms of their ability to quickly adapt to a new situation and immediately make a contribution to the organization based on the leadership skills, initiative, and motivation they bring to the workplace. Ultimately they will still have to learn new procedures and the company’s way of doing things, but they are used to change and can switch roles quickly and efficiently.
MONSTER: Are Veterans better able to relocate for a job — more so say than the general population?
TOTH: I don’t think they necessarily like relocating, especially if they have kids in school and spouses with jobs but given the nature of the military, they are used to moving every 2-3 years and can handle the process better than someone who is new to the experience.
MONSTER: How are employers repurposing Veteran skills to meet the demand for green industry jobs?
TOTH: Solar industry employers are hiring Veterans who have experience in construction and training them to install solar panels on residential rooftops. Veterans to Farmers is training Veterans how to be successful in sustainable agriculture.
MONSTER: What about the Returning Heroes Tax Credit — how can such tax credits help employers?
TOTH: Well, it’s a financial benefit to the company. A tax credit of $2,400 for a Veteran who has been unemployed at least four weeks and up to $5,600 for a Veteran who is unemployed longer than six months is a great way to offset the potential expense for providing training for that new employee.