Railroads Pledge to Hire 5,000 Veterans in 2012

Railroad companies help lower amount of unemployed veterans.

Railroad companies aim to hire 5,000 veterans this year.

Struggling to find employment is a widespread dilemma for many Americans, and it’s especially difficult for veterans.

The Defense Business Board states that this quandary results from the reasons that unemployed veterans have a tough time finding jobs they want to do, having employers understand their skills and transferring military skills to a civilian environment. And when 200,000 members of the military are entering the civilian workforce every year, the issue is magnified.

In an attempt to alleviate some of this problem, 500 railroads pledge to hire 5,000 veterans in 2012 under the umbrella of the Association of American Railroads. Because 23% of railroad workers are set to retire by 2015, according to the association, railroad companies will replace them with veterans and help lower the veteran unemployment rate.

Here’s a breakdown of the sectors in which veterans will be placed, according to the The White House:

  • Freight Railroads: At least 4,700 veterans
  • Passenger Railroads: Approximately 500 veterans
  • Rail Supply Companies: At least 200 veterans

According to a recent CNN article, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the military training that veterans possess makes them valuable to the industry. Leadership, teamwork and experience with heavy machinery are skills that translate easily to railroads. More than 15,000 veterans are currently employed by the Department of Transportation, according to the article.

“Union Pacific finds that military veterans who frequently served in a large, diverse and safety-sensitive organization, operating 24/7, adapt well to the challenges of railroad operations,” Thomas Lange, Director of Union Pacific Corporate Communications, said. “In addition, military training in areas such as aviation electronics and diesel engine mechanics provide great skills that easily are transferable to Union Pacific’s diesel electrician, diesel mechanic and work equipment mechanic positions.”

According to an article by The Washington Post, the House recently passed the Veterans Skills to Jobs Act, which states that skills such as these qualify as training requirements for federal government licenses. In other words, veterans’ military training, if relevant, should be sufficient for certification required by certain jobs. The Senate has yet to approve the legislation, but it would be another step closer to more veterans joining the workforce.

“Our commitment to our veterans is to put them to work here at home.  The federal government should be an example to the states that are looking for ways to improve veteran transitions. The legislation will not add to the deficit or create any new programs but will allow veterans to avoid a lengthy adjustment to civilian life,” said Congressman Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), who introduced the bill, in a news release on his website. “Veterans are not looking for handouts; they are looking for the opportunity to use their talents and education in the workforce.”

Photo courtesy of longhorndave