• NS2 Serves puts veterans through an intense, three-month program to help them land jobs.
• Participants receive software training and certifications.
• Retired United States Navy vice admiral Joseph Kernan said that participants also “grow into a team” during the experience.
Making the transition from military to civilian work can be a major challenge.
The US Department of Labor places the overall veteran unemployment rate at 3.7 percent, while the unemployment rate of veterans who served after September 11, 2001 is even higher, coming in at 4.2 percent.
To compare, the unemployment rate for people with a college degree is 2.5 percent.
To help close that gap, SAP National Security Services — a security and infrastructure software company — is offering free technical training to veterans through its nonprofit, NS2 Serves. The goal is to train and help 400 vets land jobs by 2021.
Business Insider recently spoke to SAP NS2 senior vice president and retired United States Navy vice admiral Joseph Kernan, who is also US President Donald Trump’s Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence nominee.
He said that the traits and soft skills that the military imbues in servicemembers make them valuable employees, regardless of their chosen field. All they need is that extra technical savvy.
“They’ve got the values, character,” Kernan said. “They’ve got good judgment, they perform under pressure. They understand teamwork. They’re loyal. All those things that are somewhat inherent in the military that we try to teach every individual that comes in.”
Kernan shared with Business Insider a little of what it’s like to go through this 11-week, intensive tech boot camp:
The three-month, full-time NS2 Serves course is based in Leesburg, Virginia
Trainees live on-site free of cost, receive a monthly stipend, and attend the course from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Guest speakers in the tech field often stop by the program to help train and mentor the participants.
So far, 150 participants have graduated from the program, from Marine infantry members to Army truck mechanics to Gold Star spouses.
“They grow into a team,” Kernan said. “You’d be amazed. The way they help each other along is phenomenal. They’ve never met each other and they’ll show up in the room and you’ll see every walk of life in there. And they decide that they’re not going to leave anybody behind and they help each other through the course.”
At the end of the program, participants receive one or more SAP associate certifications
A ton of companies around the world use SAP programs and products. It’s the world’s largest provider of enterprise application software, serving 355,000 customers in 180 countries.
Each NS2 Serves participant typically receives around four SAP associate certifications. Featured SAP technical tracks include modeling and data management, data warehousing, and reporting and analysis.
According to NS2 Serves, 100% of its graduates were offered jobs after completing the course. Interested employers included organizations like Accenture, CBEYOND, CSRA, Deloitte, and USDA. The starting average salary for a graduate of this program is $60,000.
“Virtually ever single employer has come back very happy about what they received as a product,” Kernan said. “The program works.”
Kernan said that he is happy to see numerous programs set up to help train and prepare veterans for the civilian workforce, but that there’s a downside to exclusively focusing on skills
“Training them is great, but if they don’t end up with a job at some point and time pretty soon after, that’s where you leave them somewhat destitute,” he said. “Getting a decent job ought to be the real metric.”
He said that more and more private companies should invest in programs that allow them to provide veterans with technical skills and viable job opportunities.
“For the civilian sector, it’s not that much of an investment,” he said. “Pay them back a little bit for what they’ve done and serving their country. They have that aptitude and they have a willingness to learn and they really want to transition into a career to give themselves some self-confidence and take care of their families.”