Even with record low unemployment, many veterans’ resumes don’t match the specific experience or education that employers seek; resulting in difficulty finding meaningful, well-paying work after discharge. According to a recent Edelman study, employers often don’t understand the value that a veteran can bring to the workplace and overlook veterans’ nontraditional career paths. Eric Eversole, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative, agrees. “I think, ‘You need more education’ is code for: ‘We don’t understand you,’” explained Eversole.
Some companies are working to better understand veterans, in order to tap into their unique skill sets. McLane is one such company working to solve two problems at once: provide opportunities for returning veterans and address the growing truck driver shortage. McLane’s Warriors to Wheels program recruits veterans interested in a truck driving career; offering training and resources through a Department of Labor and GI Bill® approved training program. McLane currently has more than 7,000 drivers throughout the U.S., about 12.7 percent of which are military veterans. The program aims to grow that ratio to 20 percent over the next five years.
“We’re looking to provide an opportunity for the dedicated men and women in our military branches to transition into a career that is a custom fit for their work ethic and values as a McLane Delivery Driver,” Rodney Smoczyk, Director of Recruitment at McLane explains. Veterans bring a high work ethic, a sense of urgency, and a familiarity working with a diverse team — all traits that McLane values.
Turning skills into a career
Veterans leave service with varied skills, but they often need help translating their experience into civilian employment. The Department of Labor designates Registered Apprenticeship Programs that bridge this gap by connecting employers with veterans interested in building a career.
Warriors to Wheels is one of these apprenticeship programs, and it’s also an approved GI Bill® program. That means that potential candidates can use their GI Bill® housing allowance and other benefits to “earn while they learn.”
Some program participants drove heavy vehicles for the military, but need to gain the right certifications for civilian employment, while others are completely new to truck driving. When McLane recruits veterans, they assess each new hire’s skills and route them to the right Drive4McLane program. Warriors to Wheels can help veterans advance in their post-military careers by helping them get a CDL or giving them the necessary experience to become a McLane certified driver.
Military veterans spend years in a safety culture, making them a great fit for safety-focused McLane. “We have outstanding drivers who understand that safety is imperative and demonstrate it daily. Safety is a core value in the military, and the Warriors to Wheels program provides us with access to a talent pool with a high safety culture,” Smoczyk notes.
In it for the long term
McLane’s program is structured to help drivers build a future, but also to boost driver retention — a major challenge in an industry with nearly 100 percent turnover. New drivers get support every step of the way, and the company’s open door policy encourages drivers to voice questions or concerns to management at every level.
“When American veterans begin to transition out of the military, they are looking for a job that will help them support their families with a company that values both their service and the qualities they bring with them. McLane is that company. Our opportunities provide an above average earning potential and a great future” Smoczyk says.
McLane also understands that veterans want to be home with their families after long deployments. McLane has over 80 distribution centers nationwide and drivers typically run 1- to 2-day routes, helping veterans avoid extended trips away from family.
Veterans face tough challenges when returning to civilian life, but programs like Warriors to Wheels help ease that transition by giving veterans meaningful work that pays well and offers the opportunity to build a long-term career. To learn more about McLane’s Warriors to Wheels program, visit http://McLaneW2W.com.