The Grow with Google initiative, combined with a $2.5-million training grant to USO, will help veterans and their spouses with training and career guidance. Courtesy Google
Google recently rolled out three resources to ease the transition service members and their spouses face when returning to civilian life.
The package is part of the tech company’s Grow with Google initiative designed to help create economic opportunities for Americans.
“The transition process (for service members) is complex, and we hope Grow with Google’s new tools and resources can play a part in making that easier,” said Lisa Gevelber, vice president of Grow with Google.
Peter Schottenfels is a former Michigander, University of Michigan alum and communications manager with the team who helped direct the veterans outreach project.
He said Google had been working on the tools for months before launching them as a package on Aug. 27. It includes the following elements:
Service members can type “jobs for veterans” in Google Search, along with their military occupational specialty code (“MOS” for the Army, “AFSC” for the Air Force or “NEC” for the Navy) to see civilian jobs that require similar skills to those used in their military roles.
The search results page can be filtered by industry, job title, location or a number of other factors.
Kassandra Kristoff, one of Google’s leads on this project, is a former Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy. She said she wishes this function was available when she transitioned back to the civilian workforce.
“There wasn’t anything like this. I was transitioning from the Navy, working on a ship as an engineering officer, and there were a number of options, but I wasn’t always sure what fit it would be. This helps narrow it down,” she said.
A quick search of “jobs for veterans” with the “NEC” code revealed 100-plus West Michigan job openings deemed relevant for Navy veterans at area manufacturers, schools, breweries, human resources firms, information technology companies and more.
To help veteran-led businesses identify themselves to potential customers, Google Maps and Google Search is offering a new attribute. Business owners can log into Google My Business to add a “veteran-led” designation to their listing.
Customers searching for a place on Android or iOS mobile devices or in Google Maps will see the designation — indicated by a “V” consisting of stars and stripes — when they open a business listing and tap the two-line description of the business.
West Michigan companies such as Holland-based Trendway — which was named Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year by Michigan Celebrates Small Business due to its ownership by Vietnam veteran Don Heeringa — and Grilla Grills, which makes products accessible to those with disabilities and is owned by Air Force veteran Mark Graham, are eligible for the veteran-led attribute.
“It’s a great way for businesses to say, ‘Hey, I’m a vet, support my business,’” Kristoff said.
USO training grant
Google’s charitable arm, Google.org, granted the United Service Organizations (USO) $2.5 million to provide Google IT Support Professional Certificate training and career guidance to transitioning service members and military spouses.
Kristoff said the grant will support 1,000 scholarships to Google’s all-virtual, 18-month certification program that equips participants to obtain entry-level information technology roles.
“With the flexibility there, people transitioning can start this during their final year or on their final deployment and transition into the IT industry when they return,” she said.
The Google IT Support Professional Certificate provides a direct route for those who successfully complete the program to get their information into the hands of employers. Google created the certificate because “the majority of IT support positions do not require a college degree but do require prior experience,” and the certificate gives learners the training and experience they need to get into the field.
“There is an opportunity to re-equip service members with IT skills as they move onto their next chapter after military service and to help address the spouse unemployment/underemployment problem with highly portable careers in the IT industry,” said Alan Reyes, USO senior vice president of operations, programs and transition.
According to a 2017 survey conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, 1 in 3 veterans say they experience underemployment, taking jobs below their skill level.
Military spouses face a 20 percent unemployment rate and about a 35 percent underemployment rate on average, often having to quit jobs because of a move and face long periods of unemployment and career stagnation due to work history gaps.
Veterans make up 7.4 percent of the U.S. adult population and 4.6 percent of the civilian labor force.
An estimated 250,000 U.S. service members are expected to transition out of the military and back into civilian life each year until 2019.
As of August 2018, the unemployment rate for veterans was 3.8 percent, up slightly from 3.7 percent in August 2017.