Google aims to put military veterans back to work with new tools

Google on Monday launched a series of tools aimed at helping military veterans and their spouses transition to full-time careers once their service has ended, joining other leading companies that have prioritized veteran hiring amid a nationwide skilled labor shortage.

The tech giant added a new function to its job search engine tailored to the specific skills veterans learned in the military. By inputting their military occupational specialty code, the veterans can parse job boards for positions that require a similar skill set. Google Maps will now display which businesses are operated by military veterans, along with a short description of their backgrounds.

Additionally, Google provided a $2.5 million grant to the United Service Organizations (USO). Using the grant, the nonprofit organization will offer IT support training to military veterans and their spouses, with graduates of the program earning a professional certificate and an entry point into a career path that does not require a college degree. The new initiatives are part of the tech company’s “Grow with Google” career services program.

"The transition process is complex, and we hope Grow with Google's new tools and resources can play a part in making that easier," Lisa Gevelber, Google's vice president of Grow with Google, said in a statement. "At Google, we believe technology has the power to improve lives. With today's announcement, we look forward to working with America's transitioning service members to help them succeed in civilian life."

Military veterans often struggle to find high-paying civilian careers once leaving active duty. While the unemployment rate among military veterans stood at a near-record low of 3 percent as of July 2018, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a November 2017 survey by ZipRecruiter and nonprofit Call of Duty Endowment found about one in three veterans said they are “underemployed,” or working at a job below their skill level.

The problem is worse for military spouses, 92 percent of whom are women, according to the Hiring Our Heroes foundation. Military spouses are currently experiencing 16 percent unemployment, four times the national average for women, according to a June 2017 survey by the organization. A significant portion of those spouses who are working are also underemployed.

“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. “Through innovative partnerships like this, USO and Google will be able to provide the resources and programs that support the needs of transitioning service members and their families as well as help to minimize the workforce gap in the IT industry.”

President Donald Trump announced an executive order in May 2018 aimed at making it easier for military spouses to find work at federal agencies. Trump has also emphasized efforts to address a nationwide skilled labor shortage, signing an executive order in July to expand federal job training and apprenticeship programs.

Google is also allowing other companies to implement its veteran search function on their own job boards through Google Cloud’s Talent Solution platform. So far, Pepsi, FedEx and the Getting Hired employment firm have added the feature to their career sites.

Google joined Walmart and Home Depot among major companies that have emphasized efforts to help veterans transition to new careers.