The veteran workforce just became more valuable. The recent signing of the Forever GI Bill into law brought significant reforms and improvements to veterans’ education benefits – delivering the biggest expansion of college aid for veterans in a decade and addressing the growing needs of employers to fill the skills gap.
This legislation adds additional education options for veterans to improve upon their superior military training with additional skills, making the talent pool even more valuable to employers across the country.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, “A changing economy is leaving some gaps between traditional education models and the skills employers need. It is our commitment to provide our veterans every opportunity to enter a rewarding career. This GI Bill reform provides flexibility to match our veterans with skills and education to do that.”
What does it mean for employers?
Expanded Pool of Candidates
Previously, veterans had to use their Post-9/11 GI Bill within 15 years of their last 90-day period of active-duty service. The Forever GI Bill removes this time limitation and applies to anyone leaving active duty on or after January 1, 2013, effectively immediately. This provision allows more veterans to receive new training or enhance existing skills, enabling a ready workforce and an expanded pool of applicants from which employers can choose.
It’s estimated that 2018 will bring 2.6 million job openings in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields in the U.S, but many veterans do not pursue this avenue when it comes to using their educational benefits.
The Forever GI Bill addresses this skilled worker gap by encouraging STEM fields of study. It pays veterans up to $30,000 if they are enrolled in a STEM program, have used up all their GI Bill benefits, and have at least 60 semester/90 quarter hours credit toward a STEM degree. It also will pay those who already have a STEM degree and are working on a teaching certification.
Boost for Skilled Trades
Beneficiaries will now be able to use their Post-9/11 educational assistance to pursue accredited independent study programs at area career and technical education schools that provide post-secondary level education and post-secondary vocational institutions. This provision takes effect immediately and applies to all individuals currently utilizing GI Bill educational benefits.
Under the Forever GI Bill, the VA will conduct a 5-year pilot program for veterans to enroll in high technology courses (coding boot camp, IT certifications etc.). To incentivize schools to graduate students and ensure employment in their field of study, the VA will enter into contracts with these schools or programs and provide tuition and fees payments on a sliding scale.
More Benefits for Veterans = More Benefits for Employers
The Forever GI Bill will deliver a smarter workforce, and one that’s in high demand. Military members already come to the civilian job force with skilled technical training, numerous intangible skills, and lots of leadership experience. With more educational options to pursue and more time to pursue them, more veterans will be incentivized to acquire skills that set them apart and fill the skills gap.
Learn more about Bradley-Morris and how to directly connect with military job seekers: