As we kick off 2017 with a national commitment of putting Americans back to work, there is team of patriots in Garland, Texas, just outside of Dallas, who are doing precisely that, and I had the pleasure of speaking to their most recent graduating class as guest speaker.
There have been countless efforts to increase veteran hiring and reduce veteran employment over the years. While the national unemployment rate for veterans is currently below the overall unemployment rate, retention among veterans remains problematic as we see veterans leaving many of the jobs that have been pushed on them or don’t find fulfilling.
Many approaches are being taken to address the employment and retention challenge, and at Got Your 6 we believe that empowering the workforce is one of the most cost effective approaches that has a tremendous ROI for the veteran, employer, and country.
That’s why I was so excited to celebrate with Retail Ready Career Center’s most recent graduates. Retail Ready’s mission is to provide the most relevant training to students, making them job ready or “Retail Ready” upon graduation. The majority of their students are veterans using their New GI Bill to receive, at a minimum, the Universal EPA license, which is a must-have certification for anyone interested in becoming an HVAC technician.
Out of the nearly 250 graduates I met during the December 2016 graduation ceremonies, roughly 75 percent left with a well-paying job waiting for them back in their home state. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average HVAC technician makes an average of $44,630 annually or $21.46 per hour in 2014. The top 10 percent of HVAC Technicians earn approximately $70,820 annually.
I experienced first-hand how Retail Ready Career Center is empowering its students by helping transitioning military veterans not just find a job but develop the tools to cultivate a career in the HVAC industry. Find out more about their program here.
Bill Rausch is an Iraq War veteran and the Executive Director of Got Your 6.