11/12/2012 06:51 am ET Updated Jan 12, 2013

Getting Veterans Back To Work

It is expected that within the next four years, approximately 1 million U.S. Armed Forces personnel will transition from military to civilian life, including about 300,000 retirements by August 2013. Unfortunately, military servicemen and servicewomen often have a difficult time transitioning to jobs in the private sector once their duty is complete. One of the challenges is that military job codes don't easily translate to civilian job descriptions, making it difficult for veterans to find meaningful civilian careers that match their skills and interests.

On Veterans Day, as we honor and celebrate our armed services veterans who have sacrificed so much to serve and protect our country, I am reminded of the interconnectedness between the military and the technology industry. It was the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) ARPANET project that was the catalyst for the Internet we know today. With the proliferation of the Internet and advances in information and communications technology (ICT), the private sector now has the opportunity to help those making the difficult transition from military to civilian life.

Military veterans have unique skills, experience, and qualifications that are invaluable to today's workforce, including teamwork and leadership skills, the proven ability to learn quickly, a strong work ethic, dedication, and the ability to work under pressure.

Through partnerships and the use of technology, there is an opportunity to help veterans and transitioning military personnel find new career and educational opportunities. For example, to address the job code challenge, North Carolina based talent management software firm, Futures, Inc., with seed funding from Cisco, has designed a cloud-based career and job resource portal to match Military Occupation Codes (MOCs) to civilian job openings, making it easier for transitioning military personnel, as well as job recruiters, to bridge the military-civilian language barrier. This platform is scalable to all branches of the armed forces, and other sectors.

In May 2012, the White House announced the Military Credentialing and Licensing Task Force, established to enable military personnel to more easily obtain the civilian credentials and licensing required for high growth, high demand occupations. Cisco and Futures, Inc are working with the Task Force on behalf of the ICT employer section with setting industry standards for matching Military Occupation Codes (MOCs) with core IT technology career path, and fast tracking training and ICT certifications, such as Cisco's CCNA certification, to connect transitioning military personnel to jobs more quickly.

Progress is being made in career and education opportunities for our armed services veterans. One example is the 100,000 Jobs Mission where Cisco, JPMorgan Chase, and a coalition of more than 80 other companies have committed to collectively hiring 100,000 veterans by 2020. As of September 30, 2012, coalition members have hired more than 28,000 veterans.

In addition, through our Cisco Networking Academy® program we are also training active-duty military personnel, veterans, and their families in ICT. The program teaches people to design, build, manage and secure networks, providing a pathway to ICT jobs, further education and globally-recognized industry certifications. Courses are currently offered at 1,860 locations across the United States, including 21 at U.S. Army, Marine and Navy bases. Nearly 33,000 U.S. military personnel have advanced their ICT skills by participating in Networking Academy courses at military base locations; and through a partnership with the Department of Defense Education Activity, academies at 14 locations outside the United States have trained 4,917 more people. Through tuition assistance and the GI Bill, veterans can enroll in Networking Academy courses offered at accredited U.S. community colleges and post-secondary institutions.

Take Clint Abrams as an example. A former U.S. Army serviceman, Clint used the Post-9/11 GI Bill to enroll in Networking Academy™ courses at Fayetteville Technical Community College in North Carolina, where he developed an interest in pursuing a technology-focused career. He joined Cisco in July 2012 and now provides customer service for the Cisco technical assistance center's wireless organization. As an ICT leader and employer of veterans, we look forward to sharing more stories like Clint's.

Together, with technology as an enabler, we can help our veterans find meaningful civilian careers that match their skills and interest.