ARLINGTON, Va. -- Approximately 130,000 soldiers will leave the Army this year. Over the next 10 years, 1 million will leave. To help them find jobs, the Army is teaming with private companies to offer training to troops transitioning to civilian life.
"These men and women have sacrificed so much and I think it's very clear that we owe them all a great deal," says Steve Hill, vice president of North American Sales and Service at General Motors.
GM and Raytheon are joining hands to offer soldiers who are transitioning to civilian life automotive technician training.
It's a natural fit for Raytheon, which provides training to U.S. Army soldiers around the world and also is the training source for General Motors automotive techs.
"We know that our veterans leaving the armed services face very grim unemployment rates," says Lynn Dugle, vice president of Raytheon.
The unemployment rate among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is at 7 percent, nearly a point higher than the overall jobless rate. And while jobless rates are falling among military veterans this year, they're not falling as fast as the unemployment rate for non-veterans.
The size of the military is shrinking and more and more veterans will be joining the labor force in the years ahead.
"We want our soldiers to start strong … serve strong, we want them to reintegrate strong with their families and friends and we want them to remain strong as they continue to transition into civilian life," says Lt. Gen. Howard Bromberg, Army deputy chief of staff who is responsible for personnel policies and programs.
The newly established automotive technician training program will open next month and GM and Raytheon expect to have about 120 graduates this year.
"We're also preparing to work with our dealers to find suitable positions for the soldiers as they graduate," says GM's Hill.
Hill expects 2,500 automotive technician jobs to become available at GM dealerships in the years ahead.
The auto tech training program is called "Shifting Gears," and it's just one of several job training programs the Army is offering transitioning troops.
Other job training programs include Microsoft training in software engineering; training for a commercial driver's license and heating and air conditioning.
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