Tech firms create program to give veterans tech skills

As the economy blossoms and tech jobs grow, companies are looking to expand their workforce in creative ways. Most recently, technology-focused foundation Cognizant U.S. Foundation and technology trade association CompTIA have partnered to develop a program that provides veterans with skills in tech jobs.

Last year, the US economy added 200,000 jobs in the tech industry, and that number is only expected to increase in the coming years. Cognizant and CompTIA are capitalizing on this by igniting a usually underrepresented population – veterans. Veteran unemployment is down to just 3.1 percent, but the firms feel this number could and should be lower.

CompTIA’s Creating Futures Foundation is partnering with Wounded Warrior Project and the Cognizant US Foundation to bridge the veteran skills gap for jobs in the tech industry. CompTIA and Cognizant donated $3.2 million and $4.5, respectively, to kickstart the program. CompTIA Vice President of Social Innovation Charles Eaton highlights the importance of collaboration between the nonprofits and how it affects their work.

“It’s a great model of how you want nonprofit programs to work,” Eaton said. “First, we’ll recruit a coach to enable the veterans’ families. When someone is ready to make that jump to go into the tech role, they’ll come to us, and they’ll go through one of our IT boot camps, which gives a combination of tech skills and soft skills. At the end, they graduate, and we will work alongside Warrior to place them in their perfect job role.”

The nonprofit conglomerate will host eight-week boot camps in Phoenix, Chicago, San Diego, and San Antonio. According to Eaton, Phoenix is a perfect location for a camp for many reasons. “We look at labor data for a lot of places, and Phoenix is at the top of that space that has a lot of jobs at technical support field,” Eaton said. “This is perfect because it leads to cybersecurity, cloud computing, and more. The majority of jobs are in these hardware infrastructure paths, and Phoenix has a lot of these kinds of jobs.”

Eaton and his team hope to pair 100 veterans with jobs annually, and he notes the domino effect this will have on the economy. Because of the higher wages that accompany these new tech positions, all of these workers will make an additional $20,000 to $30,000 immediately, and this salary will only increase over the years. This means more revenue for the state, which further fuels the economy. Eaton notes, “We’ve seen this with a lot of our students who used to make $12 an hour and are now making six figures.”

CompTIA, Cognizant, and Wounded Warrior Project have adopted an “IT-ready” model, pledging to ensure the readiness of everyone they take under their wing.

Ben Norman

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