Two hundred service members and veterans, 90 employers attend third Mayors' Job Fair; roundtable discussion with federal officials focuses on issue of veteran unemployment.
Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, Cranston Mayor Allan W. Fung and U.S. Senator Jack Reed today hosted a Military and Veterans Job Fair at the Rhode Island Convention Center, drawing over 90 local employers and 200 military members, veterans and their families. The free Job Fair was part of a series of Mayors' Job Fairs, a new partnership between Mayor Taveras and Mayor Fung, with Workforce Solutions of Providence/Cranston, to promote area employment.
"We have a solemn obligation to support our veterans and service members - as a community and as a nation," said Mayor Taveras. "Part of this support includes helping our men and women in uniform find employment when they return home from duty."
"Our brave men and women who have honorably served in the military have done so at great personal sacrifice in terms of putting their families and their non-military careers on hold. I am pleased to offer our veterans an avenue that can help them get back into the workforce once they return from their tour of duty," said Mayor Fung.
"Our veterans and service members have valuable leadership and technical skills that will help improve our workforce and economy. We want to do everything we can to link them with training and jobs so they can successfully transition from military service to civilian life," said Senator Reed, who helped pass the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, which provides incentives for businesses to hire veterans by offering tax credits, job training workshops, and education and training opportunities for unemployed veterans.
Prior to the Job Fair, Mayor Taveras, Mayor Fung and Senator Reed held a roundtable discussion on military employment, which featured local and national employment and military experts: U.S. Assistant Secretary Jane Oates of the Employment Training Administration; Paul E. Harrington, Ph.D., director of labor market studies at Drexel University, and Major General Kevin R. McBride, the adjutant general and commanding general of the Rhode Island National Guard. The discussion was moderated by Providence Commissioner of Public Safety Steven M. Paré, and included an audience of more than 150 local business and education leaders, as well as elected officials.
The roundtable included a robust discussion about military service member and veteran employment, as well as the ways that the public and private sectors can partner to support active and retired military.
The unemployment rate among recently returning veterans remains higher than the overall population, according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics.
Each of the panelists stressed the urgency of continuing to support employment initiatives for active and retired military service members.
"We're seeing promising signs that veterans - especially post 9/11 veterans - are finding and keeping jobs in larger numbers as our overall economy continues its steady recovery, but the fact remains that far too many of our returning service members struggle to make the transition from the military to a civilian career," said Jane Oates, Assistant U.S. Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training. "With one million service members making this transition in the next five years, we must be prepared to deliver timely and effective services that lead them to the job opportunities they have earned."
"Gulf War II veterans have seen their unemployment rates fall considerably in the last year. However, the youngest Gulf veterans, those under the age of 25, continue to experience a tough time in the job market. With an annual average unemployment rate of more than 20 percent last year, these young men and women are experiencing their own Great Recession," said Paul E. Harrington, Ph.D., director of labor market studies at Drexel University.
"Never in the history of the National Guard has so much been asked of our men and women in uniform. I am proud of their sacrifice and the unwavering support they have received from their families and our state," said Major General Kevin McBride, the Adjutant General and Commanding General of the Rhode Island National Guard.
The events were sponsored by Workforce Solutions of Providence and Cranston, the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), Hero 2 Hired, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, the City of Providence, the City of Cranston and the Rhode Island Broadcasters Association. Military Employer Support of Rhode Island and Prudential also served as event sponsors, providing free food to participating businesses in the Job Fair.