GM’s $250,000 donation to Hiring our Heroes program will fund nationwide job fairs.
The $250,000 given by GM will help fund at least 20 job fairs for veterans around the country; at these fairs, GM, a GM supplier and a GM dealer will act as sponsoring hosts.
“The best way to thank the men and women who volunteered to serve our country is with a good job when they return home,” stated GM Chief Diversity Officer Kenneth J. Barrett, a retired Navy captain.
“Between this gift and the combined efforts of our GM family, we hope to help more veterans jump-start their new careers in the civilian world,” Barrett continued. “Veterans bring discipline, a work ethic and skills to employers unique to their military training, so hiring them isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.”
Hiring our Heroes was launched in March of 2011; since then, the program has helped more than 9,500 veterans and spouses find jobs, according to the National Chamber Foundation. The Foundation is on track with various partner agencies to host 400 hiring fairs this year and is working to get the business community to commit to hire 500,000 veterans by the end of 2014.
Numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the May unemployment rate among veterans who have served since 2001 was 12.7 percent, significantly higher than the national unemployment rate of 8.2 percent.
“As the auto industry continues its own recovery, we hope to help identify as many jobs as possible within the GM family – including suppliers and dealers – for qualified veterans,” Barrett said. “At GM, we have nearly 5,000 veterans in our workforce today and 45,000 more who are retirees.”
David M. Warner, a Marine Corp veteran, is a perfect example of how valuable these job fairs are. Warner attended a job fair for veterans in Livonia, Michigan; soon after, he began working at the GM Fairfax (Kansas) Assembly as a material group leader in the plant that constructs the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse.
“I’m very grateful for this opportunity,” said Warner. “Many of my fellow Marines are seeking work, and I hope their search goes as well as mine did.”
Another benefit of the Hiring our Heroes program is how employed veterans can relate to those still seeking jobs. “Because military men and women are trained to not brag about personal accomplishments, they sometimes need coaching to sell themselves in the civilian world,” stated Ryan Church, an assistant program engineering manager for the Chevrolet Equinox. Church is also a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard. “Veterans can identify when they see and talk to ’one of their own’ on the other side of the table at these job fairs.”
GM is also involved in helping veterans find employment through the GM Talent Acquisition; weekly updates on salaried job openings are sent to state employment agencies, veterans’ groups and outplacement firms. Additionally, the GM Careers website features a “Veterans” section on the home page that links to the company’s recruiting calendar. As a corporate participant in the Army Pays program, GM ensures that all service member participants will receive a job interview when they apply for a position.
With so many veterans currently struggling with unemployment and many more expected to leave the service in upcoming years, it’s imperative that businesses help these heroes move on with their lives and give them opportunities to provide for their families. GM’s contribution to the Hiring our Heroes program is a significant step in the right direction.