Chamber Business News

New program pairs Tucson military veterans with jobs

The Tucson Metro Chamber has recently rolled out the Southern Arizona Workforce Initiative, a web-based program that matches military veterans with defense employers. This technology will create hundreds of opportunities for veterans who sometimes struggle to find post-service employment.

Currently, the initiative is in its preliminary phase – employees and potential employers are able to create an account through the platform, and both parties determine if the partnership would be mutually beneficial. Veterans can then attend a hiring event on October 23rd at Pima Community College to meet the employers with which they matched. The event allows veterans to determine which employer is the best fit for them, and vice-versa.

Tucson Metro Chamber President/CEO Amber Smith explains that the city presently has 87,000 military veterans, and military bases like Fort Huachuca and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base discharge 80 to 100 military members every month. Hence, there is a rapidly growing population of retired veterans.

Furthermore, many employers look for hard-skills such as engineering or computer science, but this program helps to showcase veterans’ impressive soft skills. Smith notes that the three main soft skills that military vets exhibit include leadership, teamwork, and time management — three skills that translate well into any work atmosphere.

Smith notes that veterans have already matched with myriad jobs. “It’s diverse. It can be anything from professional truck drivers to human resources to administrators to engineers,” she states. “There is a large amount simply because of the [defense] industry we’re focused on; that means that the technical field – the welders and assemblers and those jobs – are actively growing as well.”

In fact, the program is also partnering with Pima Community College to provide these veterans with the proper training as they begin their new positions. This ensures that they can advance past any learning curve and succeed in their respective new jobs.

The quantitative impact of the program is not available yet because it is so young, but Smith anticipates it will create hundreds of jobs in the first phase. After the first hiring event, the Tucson Metro Chamber will have more data and know how best to proceed with the program.

Some veterans can certainly face struggles with employment after their service, as the workforce is rapidly changing. The Tucson Metro Chamber is combating these roadblocks and creating win-win partnerships between veterans and employers.

Ben Norman

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