By: Terri Moon Cronk, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

The Defense Department today announced a partnership to launch employment training for transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses in highly skilled utility industry jobs.

The Utility Industry Workforce Initiative is a public-private partnership comprising DoD, the departments of Energy, Veterans Affairs and Labor, and private-sector companies Edison Electric Institute, Center for Energy Workforce Development, Nuclear Energy Institute, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and American Gas Association, defense officials said.

The initiative’s goal is to promote and design training and credentialing opportunities for applicants to enter the utility industry, officials noted.

Program Builds on White House Efforts

The announcement builds on the White House effort that began in April to help America’s veterans find high-quality jobs, with a goal to train 75,000 workers for the renewable energy industry by 2020. About 200,000 service members leave the military annually.

The energy sector is projected to require an additional 1.5 million workers by 2030 to modernize the nation’s energy infrastructure, according to Quadrennial Energy Review.

VA’s Veterans Economic Communities Initiative will work with local resources to connect transitioning service members, veterans, and their families on training and employment opportunities.

DOL will match military occupation codes with credentialing opportunities in the utility sector, and expand training capacity in SkillBridge through the community college structure.

‘SkillBridge’ Helps Transitioning Troops

The DoD SkillBridge authority promotes civilian job training available to transitioning military service members.

“This announcement is just the latest example of how leveraging our new SkillBridge authority can help in easing the transition of our service members to civilian life — while delivering real value to the American economy,” said Frank C. DiGiovanni, DoD’s director of force readiness and training.

“As we have seen, [by] the private sector participating in SkillBridge, it just makes good business sense,” he added.

SkillBridge will help link military occupations to utility jobs, and active-duty troops can receive entry-level utility training, such as apprenticeships or internships, in their last six months before separation.

To qualify, the eight- to 12-week training must lead to a “high probability” of employment and must be provided at little or no cost to service members, officials said.

Defense officials said the strategic plan will roll out later this year.