This past summer many tech companies began releasing their diversity numbers, revealing that most of their workforces are made up primarily of white or Asian men. Since these revelations, and even before it, there has been a drive to get more women and minorities involved in the tech sector. But there’s one minority group that wasn’t included in these diversity statistics: veterans.

Our goal in improving diversity statistics is to build a workforce that is representative of society as a whole. For example, since women make up 50% of our population, we should also hold about 50% of roles in these technology companies. Similarly, we would expect that the percentage of veterans in the population at large should match the percentage of veterans in the workforce.

In 2012, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that there were 21,230,865 living veterans, which makes up about 8.9% of the population.1 The percentage of veterans in the workforce is slightly lower. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012 there were about 153,023,000 individuals in the workforce, of which 11,006,000 were veterans.2 This means that veterans made up about 7.2% of the workforce. While these numbers aren’t bad, they show that we still have work to do in increasing employment of veterans. It’s also relevant to note that the 8.9% refers to ALL veterans, not just working age veterans, so it’s possible that the gap is even wider. We also know that, while unemployment among veterans as a whole is slightly lower than that of the general population (7.0% for veterans and 7.9% for non-veterans in 2012)3, the unemployment rate for those most recently serving is significantly higher. As mentioned in our previous blog post “Reinventing the veteran transition”:

[quote author=”according to United States Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics”]For Gulf War era II veterans (defined as those who served on active duty anywhere in the world from Sept 2001 to now) the rate was at 9.0%. Most shocking was the unemployment rate for the Gulf War era II veterans between ages the ages of 18 and 24: a horrific 21.4%![/quote]

For this reason, we need to keep pushing on this issue. One way for us, as members of the tech community, to contribute is to urge companies to include veterans in their diversity numbers. We need to be transparent about what we’re doing to hire veterans and where/how we can do better. Another way to do this is to have open conversations with those working closely with veterans to learn how we can do more. This is where we, as the staff of T4A.org, feel like we can do the most. In June, we hosted a Reinventors Online TechTable to discuss how to reinvent the veteran transition to ensure that veterans are able to find jobs when they return home and get the services they need.

Next Friday, we are taking an additional step and hosting a roundtable with Rosye Cloud, Senior Employment Advisor from the Veterans Benefits Administration Office of Economic Opportunity at the Department of Veteran Affairs. This goal of this roundtable will be to discuss two important issues. The first is an initiative called the Accelerated Learning Competition, a “$10 million competition to identify leading practices among alternative learning models, and evaluate the employment outcomes of accelerated learning programs (ALPs) for post-9/11 Veterans.” We also plan to discuss credentialing programs for veterans interested in pursuing employment in the tech industry. These issues are incredibly important and have come up in many of our TechTables, including our discussions with Senators Tim Kaine and Jeff Flake, and Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

We hope that this is a step forward in finding new and innovative ways to get veterans back to work. We’re eager to do more on this issue and we urge you to join us!

Resources
1 United States, Department of Commerce, Census Bureau. (2012). Selected Social Characteristics In The United States: 2012 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. Retrieved from http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk
2 United States, Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (24 March, 2014). Employment Situation of Veterans Summary Table A. Employment status of the civilian noninstitutional population 18 years and over by veteran status, period of service, and sex, 2012-2013 annual averages. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/news.release/vet.a.htm
3 United States, Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Block Quote Source

United States, Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2014, March 20). Employment situation of veterans. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/news.release/vet.htm

Featured image via http://venturebeat.com/2012/11/02/veterans-day-hackathon-aims-to-help-vets-get-jobs-in-tech/

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