In response to a challenge issued to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by President Obama to help veterans and their families integrate with their communities and find meaningful jobs leading to economic success, the VA implemented the Veterans Economic Communities Initiative (VECI). As a part of that initiative, the VA launched two new, no-cost training programs in 2015: Accelerated Learning Programs (ALPs) and VA Learning Hubs. The goal of these programs was to help veterans and transitioning service members (TSM) learn skills, earn credentials, and increase their competitiveness for civilian careers following separation from service.

Problem

To execute its new training programs, the VA needed contractor support to test their viability through a pilot program. Three Wire, working through its subsidiary VetAdvisor, answered the call and implemented their portion of the Information Technology ALP (IT ALP) pilot program, with the goal of improving a veteran’s competitiveness for employment in high-demand IT jobs. The program capitalized on the training and skills veterans gained through military service and offered additional professional training and certifications through the VA. Through this program, veterans benefited from not being required to use their education benefits to participate.

Performance

To start the process with IT ALP, veterans applied to the program through the VA website. Our team at VetAdvisor screened the applicants to assess their IT-related competency and learning level, and worked with them to understand the expectations of the program. After this initial assessment, the veteran was assessed on whether or not holistic coaching in the areas of finance, behavioral health, wellness, career, and navigational advocacy would also be beneficial.

Through the program, our expert team delivered cutting edge IT training programs that resulted in veterans receiving accreditation in high-demand IT careers. To ensure long-term success for each veteran, the program was strategically designed to include the following:

  • Technology-based expert training and coaching staff with unique capabilities in “virtual live” learning and IT certification. Our experience with veteran and TSM career services allows us to develop programs tailored to specific employer needs, helping us place more graduates in jobs. The IT ALP skills taught were honed for high-demand career fields forecasted for continuous and sustained growth. The ALP pilot was aligned to industry standard IT certifications and included monitoring and reporting tools that allowed participants to progress based on demonstrated success.
  • Dedicated career coaching and mentor support throughout the process. Each participant was assigned a dedicated career coach who reviewed career goals, helped them identify their skills and capabilities, and worked with them to select the right certification program that would align with both their interests and abilities. Once enrolled in a learning program, participants had immediate access to a wealth of structured learning content, digital reference material, and a pool of mentors with subject matter expertise in the participant’s chosen learning area due to VetAdvisor’s strong industry partnerships. As the participant neared program completion, their career coach continued to work with them to build their resume, identify job opportunities, apply for positions, prepare for job interviews, select the right job, and prepare for their first day of civilian employment.
  • Flexible training options to accommodate different needs. The IT ALP program incorporated technologies and blended-learning environments with innovative and flexible curriculum choices to accommodate different types of learner preferences. Courses were taken online or in person. Through virtual online capabilities, participants could take courses regardless of where they were and what mobility or technology access challenges they had.
  • General program management support to the VA for the IT ALP. Our VetAdvisor team members provided ongoing reporting to assist the VA in communicating the status and success of the program. We leveraged our broad network of Federal and private sector employers to identify IT jobs, secure commitments to fill open positions, and worked with participants as they transitioned to their new careers. Our VetAdvisor coaches are intimately familiar with VA benefits and were able to help participants successfully navigate the system.

Results

Career coaches assisted veterans with gaining new or improved employment even before they received their certifications. It was anticipated that many in the program would be recently transitioned veterans or in a younger demographic, although, we found that the majority of individuals had been separated for a few years and were looking for a career change. Three Wire and VetAdvisor team members continue to work closely with VA leadership to demonstrate the success of IT ALP in delivering a program tailored for the unique and individual needs of each participant enrolled.