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Veterans gain education while serving

Hutchinson Leader - 12/11/2017

By Luke Greiner

Serving in the United States Armed Forces offers an experience like no other.

Aside from the opportunity to work with incredibly dedicated people in locations most will never see, military service builds a unique range of skills that can help veterans find success after service.

The skills our men and women in uniform gain during military service range from self-discipline and teamwork, better known as soft skills, to advanced technical skills. Both types of skills are in high demand and valuable to employers.

It might seem obvious that the skills and experiences veterans bring to the table should boost their employment opportunities. A Local Look blog post in honor of Veterans Day last year highlighted higher median incomes earned by veterans in Central Minnesota. Clearly, veterans in the region are having success finding good-paying jobs using their skills.

However, despite education benefits such as the GI Bill and tuition assistance, the data show that veterans actually have lower levels of educational attainment. Only 18 percent of veterans in Central Minnesota have a bachelor's degree or more, while 23 percent of non-veterans have achieved that level of education. The attainment gap for bachelor's degree or higher is even higher statewide (35 percent for non-veterans vs. 26 percent for veterans) than in Central Minnesota.

So how can it be that veterans have lower levels of education and higher median incomes? It's reasonable to believe that veterans are exiting military service with enough knowledge and skills to more than offset having lower educational attainment. They may be landing in jobs that value experience and skills just as highly as requiring a specific degree or certificate.

A lot can be learned about finding employment success by taking cues from the bravest of men and women. Maybe overcoming challenges and uncertainty is one of the value-added skills that veterans have to overcome lower levels of education.

Don't forget to thank a veteran for their service and sacrifice.

From individual employment counseling, to assistance in all stages of job search, to direct referrals for job openings, to job training for disabled veterans, to helping convert military training to civilian credentials, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development offers a variety of specialized employment and training services to veterans.


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