A Problem Worth Solving

The top four reasons young U.S. Military enlistees join the army are skill development, employment, career and education opportunities. “Tuition funding, skill training and travel.” are the top reasons for enlisting, according to Gary Fox, a highly-accomplished Military Transition Mentor. Those joining the armed forces are seeking personal and professional development through practical skills and higher education.

Since the all-volunteer military was founded (1973), 98% of enlisted personnel (non-officers) possess a high school diploma and 11% hold a full or partial Bachelor’s degree. 89% of enlistees do not possess employment skills or career direction beyond high school.

Anna Zogas of the University of Washington conducted a study (Feb. 2017) titled “US Military Veterans’ Difficult Transitions Back to Civilian Life and the VA’s Response”. Ms. Zogas concluded:

“Young Veterans regularly observe that the military does an extremely effective job of training them to operate within the military, and an extremely poor job of reversing that training or preparing them before sending them back into civilian life. The basic idea that Veterans must embark on a “transition” as they move from military to civilian life has been central for researchers, doctors, policy-makers, and activists thinking about the physical, emotional, and social experiences of post-9/11 Veterans.”

Each year, an average of 245,000 Veterans leave active service to enter civilian life. Many lack the training and skills to secure more than an entry-level job. Some use the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) to earn college credits while on active duty. Others use the GI bill to pursue formal education once they finish military service. However, a significant number of Veterans do not and are left without a clear path into civilian life.

SolidVets is a Pittsburgh-based non-profit employment training program for military Veterans. It focuses on providing qualified Veterans with design skills and experience to secure careers in the growing field of robotics and manufacturing automation. Rather than employ Veterans to perform repetitive tasks, we aim to train them as knowledge-workers.

Many designers in the field of automated manufacturing are university-trained engineers. It’s difficult to justify the cost of such engineers for tasks like 2D drafting, 3D modeling and programming manufacturing tools. The engineer is qualified to solve problems beyond this scope, leaving an opportunity for SolidVets-trained Veterans for employment as CAD technicians.

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