Thursday, July 12, 2012

US Military Seen As A Reservoir Of Talent By Freight And Passenger Rail Groups

5,000 Vacancies for Veterans Announced
Shipping News Feature

US – UK –Nothing illustrates the attitude toward the fighting men of the two countries better than a recent blog by the US Secretary of Transport, Ray LaHood regarding the prospective fortunes of troops leaving the services. Whilst Britain announced the lay off another 18,000 plus soldiers from the Army, LaHood was blogging about the future prospects of veterans from the US forces with, amongst others, the freight transport industry, particularly on the country’s railroads.

LaHood points out that hiring experienced military men and women into the railroad industry is not a new practice in America. For nearly two centuries, rail manufacturers and operators have recognized that veterans bring a wealth of skills that translate from military service to successful railroad careers building to the fact that today 25% of the railroad’s current workforce has a military background.

This week the Secretary joined with Ed Hamberger, the President and CEO of the Association of American Railroads (AAR) to announce the creation of 5,000 vacancies for men and women leaving the forces this year alone. Compare this with the paucity of suitable work awaiting UK troops, many of whom will be returning to poorer neighbourhoods, for many the reason they signed up in the first place.

The new US initiative was in cooperation with Joining Forces, the White House initiative supported by First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to reward faithful service for the country. Joining Forces appears to be one of the Presidents success stories with in excess of 1,600 companies hiring more than 90,000 veterans and military spouses whilst committing to hire 170,000 veterans and military spouses in the coming years.

The new announcement comes just a month after the launch of a new website, Veterans Transportation Career Center, aimed at helping veterans find transportation jobs and helping transportation companies find qualified veterans.

Meanwhile back in the UK, a raft of ex soldiers face an uncertain future with no such equivalent scheme to support them. The difference between the attitudes on either side of the Atlantic is mainly a cultural one. The US public have long been subjected to a barrage of propaganda as to the value of their servicemen and women stretching back to the guilty days which for many followed the Vietnam War.

In the UK there is no equivalent sense of debt amongst the corporate community, and certainly no perceived political gain in making the matter a high priority, particularly at a time when decent jobs are at a premium and the public sector workforce, previously often a home for retirees from the Forces, is under tremendous pressure as it itself is cut.