POLITICS

Alberta launches program to connect retired military veterans with employers

06/18/2015 01:14 EDT | Updated 06/18/2016 05:59 EDT
CALGARY - Alberta has introduced a program to help retiring Canadian Forces members find jobs outside of the military.

It's estimated that up to 5,000 personnel leave the service each year.

Many employers have difficulty distinguishing between military qualifications and their corresponding civilian standards.

The program, called BaseToBusiness, includes forums and seminars and develops strategies to raise employers' awareness of the skills military veterans can offer.

Melanie Mitra, CEO of the province's employment transition service Prospect, said the new program goes much further than helping employers make sense of resumes.

"It isn't a matter of just being able to read military qualifications on a resume or taking some workshops that explain military culture," she said.

"I think the understanding employers need to have has to go much deeper than that. You have to figure out what you know about working with this demographic. How do you support the transition of somebody coming from the military?"

Mitra said of the 5,000 personnel leaving each year, between 15 and 18 per cent are for medical reasons. Although they may have the qualifications to do the job, employers may have to make some changes to fit them into their organizations, she said.

There are also people who have never worked anywhere but in the Canadian Forces, she noted.

"How do you take a 25-year-old who has never been in the civilian workforce and help that individual? How do you take a guy who is in his mid-50s and has had a 35-year career in the military and tell him he's going to report to a 27-year-old?

"When the military develops things like duct tape, digital photography, cargo pants and global positioning systems, the private sector is quick to pick up on the innovations," Mitra said. "When it comes to employing skilled people coming out of the military, there is work to be done."

A senior Canadian Forces officer is applauding the BaseToBusiness.

"From the front lines to the front offices, hiring a veteran is just good business," said Lt.-Gen. David Millar, chief of military personnel.

The program was developed with input from the 3rd Canadian Division Support Base in Edmonton, the Department of National Defence and several employment service providers.

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