Michelle Obama and Jill Biden promote the Jobs-for-Veterans program | Economy

First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden on Thursday celebrated the fifth anniversary of a White House effort to ease the transition from military to civilian life by encouraging businesses to hire veterans and military spouses – a program they praised for helping to halve veteran unemployment since 2011.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos joined Obama and Biden at a press conference with representatives from more than 40 companies that participate in the program, known as Joining Forces, and pledged to strengthen the the tech giant’s role in this effort. Amazon has doubled its number of veteran employees by hiring more than 10,000 veterans and military wives since 2013, and Bezos has promised his company will hire 25,000 more over the next five years.

Bezos said his company will also train 10,000 additional veterans and military spouses in cloud computing, “providing a gateway to a high-demand and high-paying field.”

“We believe this is the right thing to do for our veterans and [military] spouses,” he said. “And it’s the right thing to do for our hundreds of millions of customers. And we’re excited to continue to hire and train these incredible leaders.”

Companies participating in the program announced their commitment to hire more than 110,000 veterans and train nearly 60,000 veterans and military spouses over the next five years, primarily in aerospace, telecommunications and technology.

the Joining forces works with public and private sector employers to help veterans and their families apply for jobs and undergo training during the sometimes stressful adjustment from military to civilian life. Obama has credited Joining Forces with helping to dramatically boost the hiring of veterans and their spouses since the effort began in 2011, saying more than 1.2 million veterans and spouses have been hired or trained through this effort.

“Today is about making sure that when our young men and women return from war, they will be welcomed home with well-paying jobs,” Biden said. “They face challenges that most Americans never have to face.”

The unemployment rate for veterans who have served on active duty since 2001 fell from 12.1% in 2011 to 5.8% in 2015, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate for all veterans also halved during this period, from 8.3% in 2011 to 4.6% in 2015.

Servicemen and women in the military are already working in jobs that would be helpful in areas such as technology, Obama said, adding that a challenge faced by more than 200,000 veterans transitioning to civilian life every year is to have their military skills recognized when seeking professional certifications.

“If they can set up wireless networks in Baghdad or do satellite reconnaissance in the mountains of Afghanistan, I’m pretty confident they can handle anything in Silicon Valley,” Obama said. . “Whatever job you need to fill, there are plenty of people doing that job right now in the military who will be ready to succeed in your business from day one.”

Kathleen Carroll, global head of talent acquisition at Amazon who served with her husband in the Marines, said Amazon took steps to ease her transition to civilian life when she applied for a job at the end of his service. She said Amazon has hired military spouses in roles who can move with their families when military deployments change, adding that a company group called Amazon Warriors also helps build community among working veterans. in the business.

“Our teams know that having a strong internal network for veterans and military families will make the transition easier,” Carroll said. “Through Amazon Warriors, we’ve created mentorship programs and organized volunteer opportunities, like sending care packages to troops deployed overseas.”

The first lady called on companies participating in Joining Forces to “keep up the momentum” to boost employment for veterans.

“No matter who is in the White House next, it should continue to be a national priority with national leadership coming from this building,” Obama said.

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