Putting your money where your mouth is: Providing training for ex-military

Supporting ex-military coming into the tech sector is one thing, but offering the necessary training is another

Claiming to be supporters of ex-military gaining a career in technology is one thing, but businesses offering the necessary time and funding for training is another, according to one US veteran.

Computer Weekly recently spoke with Darrell Powell-Lee, a veteran who successfully went through service provider FDM’s Veteran Program to become an FDM IT consultant based in New York.

FDM’s programme focuses on transitioning veterans in the US into professional IT consultants through its Academy Programme. Successful candidates are then employed by FDM for a minimum of two years.

During the academy, candidates receive intensive technical and professional training for approximately three to four months learning Java development, application support or how to be a project management/business analyst.

The FDM Academy training has been accredited by the American Military University and can be used for up to 21 semester hour credits towards a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology.

Powell-Lee, who now works on-site with Credit Suisse as an FDM IT consultant said: “If you are not trained on a system then employers want you to go off and get trained. There is no thinking about how that person might show great promise if you were to train them up yourself.

“This is why FDM were so pivotal for me as they were willing to train me.”

He served for four years and was injured during that time. “You think that because you served your country you would have certain respect, but the harsh reality is that it is not the case,” he said.

“It is difficult when translating skills from the military into civilian form, so that an employer can understand.”

Monica Hogan, US marketing assistant for FDM, agreed by saying: “Veterans coming back face a lot of challenges. Even though they have experience of the working world, it is difficult to translate those skills to the hiring manager.

“There are lots of companies out there that say they offer jobs to veterans and help them get back into work, however they don’t always invest in training the veteran nor do they invest in training the hiring manager to understand how those military skills translate. There may be a high level of awareness of this at the top; however this is not always the same level of understanding at the actual hiring manager level. ”

Hogan said veterans are well worth offering the training to as they have many skills that recent college graduates might not necessarily have learnt yet: “They think analytically and quickly and know how to handle being given responsibilities.

“Through the training the veterans learn valuable skills to put on their CV. Normally the longer the gap in leaving the military and entering civilian employment, the harder it is. It becomes very demotivating,” she said.

FDM works with the Department of Veteran Affairs under the Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation and Education Program (VRE). Hogan explained that this programme means veterans with service-connected disabilities receive money to help them prepare for, find and keep suitable jobs.

She explained that the company is also in the middle of the application process for the GI Bill: “This means veterans have their housing paid and everything else while they are training with us. Fingers crossed on that.”

The company is also expanding its relationship with the Department of Labor Veterans’ Education and Training Services (VETS) and WorkForce1 within the New York tri-state area.


Read more on IT technical skills