The Blackfox Advanced Manufacturing Program for Military Veterans

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Today, there is a critical shortage of qualified workers. Worker shortages, as well as skill gaps and low unemployment rates, are making it very difficult to recruit talent.

Additionally, finding the right mix of intelligence, talent, work ethic, and cultural fit in an employee is no easy task. Employers are struggling to find just the right employee for a particular position, and are considering broadening their reach by recruiting trained military veterans.

You might be wondering why you should hire a military veteran, especially if your company has nothing to do with the military. According to Business Insider, there is a wealth of benefits that comes with hiring veterans. These benefits are summarized below.

Veterans value hard work. When on deployment, you work every single day with almost no breaks. The military instills a culture of accomplishment, which is very much ingrained in veterans. They take their responsibilities very seriously, they value commitment, and they carry out their assigned tasks with utmost precision.

The military also instills strong leadership skills. As one advances through the military’s ranks, the burden of leadership increases. Veterans therefore have a deep understanding of the importance of cooperation and personal development to the success of a project.

In addition, the military helps one develop a strong intuition, given that military personnel often have to make quick decisions that could have life-or-death consequences.

Veterans have a questioning and honest mentality and openly express when something is wrong. They are not afraid to challenge ideas and to offer alternatives, which is an asset in any organization. They are also more likely than other demographics to start their own businesses, giving them the acumen and resourcefulness to help companies grow quickly from the inside.

The government sometimes pays for veteran education, so veterans can excel at their careers and consistently improve their knowledge while on the job through continuing education programs, such as those offered by Blackfox. In addition, employers can receive Department of Defense credits and, depending on the state, payroll tax incentives and subsidies.

In an attempt to address this skilled labor shortage in the electronics industry, Blackfox has launched a program to prepare military veterans (and civilians) for employment.

Blackfox Training Institute, as an approved technical training center for eligible veterans launched a new training program in 2013. The “Blackfox Veteran’s Training Program” is the first program of its kind to provide veterans with little to no industry experience with the skills to grow their careers in the electronic assembly industry. Upon completion of the course, veterans can qualify for employment in aerospace, defense, medical, and all facets of electronic manufacturing.

Blackfox prepares military veterans for employment supported by approval under the provisions of “Title 38, United States Code” and recognition by the State of Colorado as an approved private occupational school qualifies Blackfox as a training center for eligible veterans wanting to use their GI Bill for educational benefits.

This program has been mostly funded through State and Federal training grants. There is no cost to the veteran. There is no cost to the employer whatsoever. As a matter of fact, we have not had any veterans in this program tap into their post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. It's all been funded through State and Federal grants so far. What is amazing is how many employers aren't aware of this program.

This program was initially developed by Blackfox Training in cooperation with Lockheed Martin and the first program of its type to prepare veterans who have military electronics experience, as well as those who have little or no industry experience, with the skills training and certifications that enable them to enter and create a career path in this growing aerospace/defense industry.

The program was funded through the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and has depended particularly on cooperation with Arapahoe, Denver, Douglas, Jefferson and El Paso counties’ Workforce Centers.

I am very passionate about our program as it provides our military veterans an opportunity for a career path as a civilian. We work in conjunction and collaboration with various State Departments. Right now, we are primarily working with the Colorado State Department of Labor and Employment, Veteran Services Group, and with manufacturers that want to hire qualified people.

We use the state agencies for recruiting veterans who are transitioning or underemployed and want a career in electronic manufacturing. County agencies go through the list of interested individuals and select a group; they assess these individuals for their interest and their ability for this type of industry. Applicants then come to Blackfox, and we filter their interest and ability with skill-based assessments. Those individuals that express interest and ability are then scheduled for upcoming training sessions.

This is our third year, and it's going well. We've trained and certified over a 120 individuals and of these graduates, roughly 80% have made it through the program at a class-three level. All of the technical curriculum is developed at an IPC class-three level, the most stringent class, for mostly aerospace companies. The course curriculum is designed and developed based upon industry standards and input from our partnering employers to ensure that the curriculum addresses all of their specific and unique skill requirements. Lockheed Martin in Littleton, Colorado was our first employer to step up and really want to be a part of this program. Today, we have over a dozen of Colorado’s top employers partnering in this program!

During this whole process, the employer that we work with has an opportunity to come in and meet with the veterans and interview with them. They can start the process running in parallel with the training for background checks and all the other things they require. By the time the veteran graduates, they're ready to go to work.

To read this entire article, which appeared in the September 2016 issue of SMT Magazine, click here.


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