Veterans continue to have a tough time transitioning into the civilian workforce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces since 2001 is 9%. Worse yet, younger veterans age 24 and under that served in the Gulf War-era had a staggering 24.3% unemployment rate. However, as discouraging as these numbers might be, there is one area providing hope to those veterans struggling to find a job: the oil and gas industry.
ConocoPhillips reaches out
A recent article on oil and gas industry website Rigzone highlighted a program that ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) has put in place to help veterans find work within the company. ConocoPhillips is seeking to be the oil and gas company of choice for transitioning military members. The company has even set up a part of its website that is dedicated to recruiting former members of the military. The site enables job seekers to search for jobs that specifically translate to their Military Occupation Specialties, or MOS.
Also part of the program is a partnership with Orion International, which is a military talent management firm. Orion helps veteran applicants in transition by offering them resume training, coaching, guidance, and encouragement as they walk through the ConocoPhillips' hiring process.
ConocoPhillips' partnership with veterans doesn't just stop after they've been recruited within the company. Once an employee, veterans can join the company's Patriot Employee Network. The network links veterans in a buddy system to help them transition from the military into their new civilian career. Some of the other benefits of the Patriot Employee Network include setting up volunteers for flag planting, assisting with care packages and letters for active service members, and allowing members to attend networking, fundraising, or other company-sponsored military-related events.
ConocoPhillips is one of the many energy companies that is having a hard time finding applicants with the right skillset for the jobs they have open. The issue is that the existing applicant pool in many places around the country, like the Bakken shale of North Dakota, simply don't have the qualifications, skills, or experience that energy companies are seeking.
Former military personnel, however, typically do have the skills and work ethic energy companies need. This is why energy companies seek out former members of the military in their recruiting efforts. Many of them, including Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK), Devon Energy Corp (NYSE:DVN), and Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI), are even listed among the top veteran-friendly companies this year in U.S. Veterans Magazine.
Need is only expected to grow
The good news for veterans is that there are expected to be a lot of energy jobs available in the years ahead as the industry is growing rapidly thanks to the shale boom. In fact, the industry's growth continues to rapidly outpace the rest of the economy. From 2007 to the end of 2012, the U.S. economy added just over a million jobs, or about 1%. However, the oil and gas industry added 162,000 of those new jobs, which represented a 40% boost in industrywide employment. Looking ahead, the North American energy boom is expected to fuel even more jobs in the future, with an estimated 1.4 million new jobs expected to be added to the industry by 2030, providing ample opportunities for veterans to find jobs within the industry.
Because of this, the need for skilled applicants will only increase over time, with former members of the military being among the most skilled applicants for these jobs. This is why we'll likely continue to see energy companies reach out to veterans in an effort to recruit and onboard these talented workers.