The Bay Area's rebounding economy has been beneficial for veterans, according to Daniel Kennerk, Local Veterans Employment Representative at the state Economic Development Department's (EDD) Career One-Stop in Fremont. Regionally, the unemployment rate among vets has gone down appreciably in the past year, from nine percent to seven percent, almost a 25 percent decline.
Underlying this success, at least partially, has been the amalgam of programs and partnerships spearheaded by myriad government agencies and the private sector to promote veteran employment. The annual Honor a Hero, Hire a Vet Job and Resource Fair is one of the most visible and effective vehicles for connecting veterans, National Guard, and Reservists returning from active duty to potential employers.
Kennerk and his colleagues are busy gearing up for the next job fair, to be held Friday morning, September 27, on the Las Positas College campus in Livermore. The fair gives job-seekers the opportunity for face-to-face interviews with companies that are actively hiring. Other assistance ranges from obtaining benefits training and career information to a resume critique and help developing an "elevator speech," in addition to the chance to network with workforce professionals.
The event is apt to be well attended. The 2012 fair, in Concord, drew 400 veterans, and this year that number is expected to double.
Two major forces are fueling the momentum for veteran hiring: an upturn in the economy and the multitude of benefits for employers, from worker performance to tax incentives. "Employers see the value of a veteran who is conscientious, shows up for work on time, follows instructions, and contributes to the team," Kennerk says.
There is also a good match between the skill sets possessed and those in demand. Advanced manufacturing in the pharmaceutical and medical device sectors has exploded in the East Bay, and over the past few years numerous vets have participated in training programs offered by local community colleges to prepare them as manufacturing technicians. Kennerk cites several capital equipment manufacturers that have ramped their hiring, including Adept in Hacienda. "We have a large pool of vets with that skill set," he comments.
Other strong fields are solar equipment manufacturing and construction. "The unions have really stepped up hiring activities for the trades. When we refer a vet, they get on the hiring hall list and usually out to a job site within three days, at the apprenticeship rate."
The program's financial incentives appeal to the bottom line. Businesses that hire veterans at a wage of $17 per hour or more are eligible for a $4,500 tax credit that can be applied to their tax liability at any time over a 19-year period.
As evidence of the extensive inter-agency cooperation supporting the job fair, the Wheels transportation system is providing free bus service to get veterans from the Pleasanton BART station to the Las Positas campus. Wheels is providing event information inside buses, while BART is promoting the event on the electronic bulletin boards in its stations.
While more than 70 companies are already scheduled to be on site, Kennerk says every effort will be made to accommodate last-minute registrations. Contact him at (510) 794-3681 or by emailing DKennerk@edd.ca.gov . Veterans wanting more information can visit www.edd.ca.gov .
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