Current Events

Title:States adding tools to help Veterans get Employed

Author:Ron Rutherford, Business Development Manager, TAOnline

Date:April 2012

Volume:Volume 3 Issue 81

Arkansas joins the states of Washington and Minnesota, allowing employers to voluntarily give preference to veterans when hiring. This means if two candidates for a job have similar qualifications, an employer can choose the veteran, if for no other reason, than because he or she is a veteran.

Washington was first with a voluntary veterans' preference law in 2011. Minnesota added one last year. The Arkansas legislation is similar, but adds a wrinkle to give veterans a further advantage.

Veterans who return to Arkansas will have access to a state registry listing employers who will provide the preference. Thomas Dunlap, a legislative director for the Arkansas Society of Human Resource Management, says the directory is under development and about six-months away from going online. But, he adds once active, it could be a very valuable tool for HR managers and veterans looking for work once they've transitioned to civilian life.

Dunlap believes the registry could make Arkansas attractive to veterans looking for work. While the new legislation gives veterans and employers a tool, it remains voluntary. In none of the states, no employer is required to participate. It is a voluntary process requiring no recordkeeping or justification for employment decisions.

One of the biggest concerns raised about veteran employment is translating and transferring skills from the military to the civilian workplace. Several states now have on the books, or are in the process of passing new legislation, easing the path for state licenses and certifications.

Georgia's new law focuses primarily on construction and trades. Licenses for Electricians, Plumbers, and Contractors can be expedited, based on veterans' military skills, training, and testing.

New Jersey certification and licensing boards can provide exemptions or waivers from licensure requirements when military training, education or experience is equivalent to state licensing requirements.

Montana and Maryland lawmakers are considering similar legislation. Meanwhile, New York, New Jersey, California and several other states have laws on the books to ease a veteran with 'big-rig' experience to gain their commercial CDL licenses.

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