Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed the Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act, which President Trump is expected to sign into law. This landmark support for veteran’s job opportunities highlights the growing prominence of STEM education and skills as a pathway to better-paying and long-term career paths. Rosalinda Maury, the Director of Applied Research and Analytics at Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families, recently provided her perspective on this initiative in an interview for Syracuse University News.
Primarily, the legislation provides veterans job opportunities by expanding their access to existing National Science Foundation (NSF) programs that will benefit from veteran skills. The consensus among labor market experts and veterans support groups is that this legislation provides more pathways to education and resources required to enter the STEM field at a higher-paying level and in a secure industry. At a time when the labor market has grown increasingly competitive across the board, the additional resources available to veterans can have a major impact on increasing employment rates and income levels for veterans in their career transition.
Making the Transition from Military to a Civilian STEM Career
One of the major reasons why policy experts are overwhelmingly supportive of a STEM career transition initiative for veterans is that the military fosters and develops many STEM skills that build a foundation for veteran’s job opportunities in science and technology fields. Veteran skills translate exceedingly well to STEM skills, especially when veterans are proactively enrolled in a STEM education or training program after leaving the military. This makes it easier for veterans as civilians to rely on their veteran skills that they learned in their military careers to make a positive impression on prospective employers and excel in their career transition.
Even though further education or training may be required to completely transition a veteran to a long-term STEM career, they are generally well-suited with the veteran skills, work ethic and discipline necessary to pursue complex STEM concepts. Employers will undoubtedly benefit from the valuable combination of veteran skills, STEM education and training and proven work ethic from extending veterans job opportunities. Notably, these advantages of providing veterans job opportunities in STEM careers are in addition to the federally backed incentives to employers to increase veterans job opportunities.
Overcoming Challenges to Beginning a STEM Career
Veteran skills and work experience lend themselves to pursuing a STEM career, but the further training and education that may be required can take a major time commitment and financial resources. Some veterans may experience G.I. Bill benefits running out or the challenge of balancing home and work commitments against completing an educational program. Extending resources to veterans during this time of transition will provide veterans job opportunities that they may not otherwise have access to but certainly have the veteran skills and STEM potential to fill.