MACV is hosting a series of recurring webinars for all job seekers through our Employment Services program. The webinars came about through feedback solicited by the MACV Employment Services team, who reached out to current and former program participants to see how they were coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Feedback focused on a lack of access to two services MACV previously provided during in-office visits: the resume classes formerly held twice a week in the MACV conference room, and an orientation session held in partnership with VA Community Employment Coordinator and Army Veteran Deric Williams focused on navigating and applying to jobs on federal job website USAJobs. Veterans and staff alike also noted the increasing number of companies conducting job interviews via phone or web-based platforms.
Responding to the evolving needs of Veterans looking for work, we hosted the first of our web series in June with “Resume Development,” followed up in August with “USAJobs: Learning How to Apply for Government Jobs,” and launching the “Telephone and Video Conference Interviewing Skills and Techniques” webinar in September. Staff also introduced a virtual workshop covering how to install Zoom, conduct basic internet searches, and complete online job searches and applications in September.
The team is also collaborating with MACV’s newly created Justice Involved Veterans initiative to develop a webinar aimed at addressing justice involvement during a job interview. These webinars are possible because of the hard work and expertise of presenters Bob Anderson (MACV), Deric Williams (Department of Veterans Affairs), and Kari Elias (Cygnus Recruiting Group). Thank you for your commitment to stabilizing Veterans in need!
Many Veterans leave the military with skills and interests which align them with industries such as construction, transportation, logistics, and labor, which all have strong union presences in the American workforce. Employment Case Manager Ryan Schaefer, a Veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps with a background which includes carpentry, farming, and now social services, has great insight into the opportunities and challenges labor unions create for MACV Veterans.
“I’ve helped guys get up to date or keep up to date if they’re behind on their union due,” explains Schaefer, “That’s the number one that we use.” Other common interactions MACV has with local unions include initial payment of dues for new members, which are commonly higher than the maintenance payment existing members pay.
Why pay dues at all? Local labor unions often hold the cards for lucrative, stable jobs in skilled labor industries like plumbing and electrician work. Dues paid by union laborers give them access to these opportunities, bargaining rights, and protections from a volatile job market.
At least in theory. COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on even the most stable unions, sidelining industries such as electricians and construction workers for months or even years. “[A Minnesota] electrician’s union didn’t even accept any applications in 2020, so now there’s a backlog of two years’ worth of member applications which need processing,” reports Schaefer. These kinds of administrative problems have very real impacts on the financial stability of Veterans served by MACV.
Barriers like reliable transportation across a physically large state with a wide range of work sites also pose challenges to Veterans who may not have a driver’s license or cannot afford a car. Paying upfront for expenses like a hotel room or other temporary living arrangement, then waiting for union reimbursement, often writes MACV Veterans off the list for high-paying jobs outside their immediate community.
Schaefer also notes that Veterans themselves often play a significant role in whether they succeed in the union environment. Soft skills MACV emphasizes in its Employment Services like monitoring job boards, using computers to apply for jobs, building interpersonal relationships in the work environment, and becoming familiar with conduct standards all play roles in the successful union member’s life. “We might have a guy who gets their first job after we pay their union dues, but then never finds another one because he doesn’t look,” he explains.
These simple oversights may discourage an inexperienced worker and have long-lasting impacts on their employability and ability to build experience on the job. Factors such as age, criminal background, professional qualifications, and reputation also contribute to a Veteran’s success in the union-tied trades.
At the end of the day, choosing to join or leave the U.S. military is a career choice. Bridging the divide between the military and civilian work environment is the most concrete divide Veterans experience upon leaving active duty. A shared background in the military and civilian worlds is an especially critical factor for working with the Veteran population struggling to succeed in their work life. MACV considers this team a critical element for the long-term stabilization of homeless and at-risk Veterans. Thanks for all the hard work, guys!
Learn about resources, services, and benefits provided by multiple state agencies available to Minnesota’s Veterans, National Guard and Reserves, transitioning service members, and their families!
Visit any of the following virtual booths to be equipped with an understanding of the programs available and how to access these resources:
The purpose of this event is to empower veterans, transitioning service members, National Guard and Reserves, and their family members with knowledge about available resources. Participants will learn how to get connected to Employment Services, Legal Assistance, Homeless Services, Financial Assistance, Veterans Benefits, Education, Healthcare, Suicide Prevention/Mental Health Services, Apprenticeship Programs, and Entrepreneurship.
Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations to attend this event should contact Shannon Sprouse at Shannon.Sprouse@state.mn.us by within 3 days of event.