THE BLOG
06/02/2016 03:34 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How Workshops for Warriors is Getting Female Veterans Jobs

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Image Source: https://workshopsforwarriors.org

Workshops for Warriors isn't your typical nonprofit. While there are a lot of organizations out there doing great things in the Veterans community, this nonprofit is an advanced manufacturing school where Veterans can earn nationally recognized, portable credentials--all at no cost to the Veteran. It gives Veterans the tools they need to succeed, and the female Veterans in the programs are excelling all across the Nation.

To date, Workshops for Warriors has graduated 288 Veterans, Wounded Warriors, and transitioning service members with 896 total credentials. Of these 288, about 3% have been women. It doesn't sound like much, but when you hear about the employment gap in the advanced manufacturing industry, every 3% counts.

Workshops for Warriors: Why Advanced Manufacturing is a Perfect Match for Our Nation's Veterans

According to The Manufacturing Institute, there will be 3.4 million new advanced manufacturing jobs created over the next decade, yet currently, 2 million of those jobs will go unfilled due to lack of skilled labor. Add these numbers to the fact that the current median age of a manufacturer in America is 61, and soon we won't have enough people here in America to build our bridges, planes, roads, skyscrapers, and the list goes on. You can read even more startling statistics here.

With over 1 million service members transitioning out of the Military in the next five years, they make excellent candidates to fill this void. The fact that advanced manufacturing skills are in such high demand also allows these Veterans to move anywhere in the country with the portable credentials they earn at the school.

In just one 16-week program, students can earn anywhere from 1 to 15 credentials accredited by the National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS), American Welding Society (AWS), Mastercam, SolidWorks, Immerse2Learn, and Snap-On. These are real, industry-recognized credentials, and Workshops for Warriors is the only training pipeline in America training and certifying Veterans into these careers.

What the Workshops for Warriors Females Are Saying about the Program

For female Veterans in the Workshops for Warriors programs, it feels good to be in a comfortable setting and given the keys to success despite the industry being such a male-dominated field. When you visit the nonprofit's website, there is a section that outlines student success stories, and you'll see that many of the females mention the fact that they are used to being in this environment, and hoped to be exposed to male-dominated industries even when exiting the military.

One story that sticks out is Rachel Kozewski. She jumped around from job to job after transitioning out of the military, first trying nursing and then moving to professional diving, working odd jobs in between wherever she could find them. She admits that had she found Workshops for Warriors sooner she would probably have created a solid career moving towards welding, but it wasn't something she was introduced too soon enough. She explained in her success story:

"I got out of the military and just couldn't find work. I'm a hard worker; I'm not a stranger to hard work, but I couldn't find a job. If you don't have a college education with ten years experience, you're not getting anything that you can live off of, especially in California."

"It feels natural going to school with other veterans. It's something I'm familiar with. Coming here the one beautiful thing about this school is that it feels very familiar, and when I'm not in a place like this, I feel very unfamiliar." She added, "Since I've been 18 I've been in the military and surrounded by nothing but military things. It's a scary thing when you leave that environment, and nothing feels the same."

By having nationally recognized credentials in welding and machining, all of the Veterans in the program become sought-after talent all across the Nation. For the women Veteran students, this means a chance to break into a field that is full of job opportunities. It gives everyone the opportunity to work in an industry that is, unfortunately, losing exposure in our school systems and our media.

Workshops for Warriors Chief Operating Officer Rachel Luis y Prado explained that Workshops for Warriors is consistently working to get more female students familiar with manufacturing and the programs the nonprofit offers.

"It is tougher to reach many of the female Veterans, but we have slowly been able to make connections in the Military community here in San Diego to help spread the word. Our female students are some of our most successful upon leaving the program, and we work to recruit actively to ensure that our programs are available to all honorable discharged Veterans and Wounded Warriors."

Rachel is now working in the aerospace community at Turbine Components Inc. doing manual machining. Rachel hopes to continue classes at Workshops for Warriors to become a welder.

This Summer Semester Workshops for Warriors has two female Veterans in their programs with seven alumni working at various jobs in the industry. Many also choose to come back to the school for a second semester to earn more advanced credentials.

Bottom Line:

There is a massive shortage of skilled workers in the advanced manufacturing industry, and there is a huge number of Veterans, Wounded Warriors, and transitioning service members looking for a path to success outside of the Military. Both of these issues are happening simultaneously, and one cause can help the other.

As for the female Veterans in the Workshops for Warriors programs, they are proving that they can excel in this industry the same way they excel in the Military. Everyone deserves the opportunity to be exposed to career paths such as advanced manufacturing, and at no cost to the Veteran this school has created a proven path to success.

We need to bring advanced manufacturing back to America, one Veteran at a time.