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Research Report Highlights Veteran Workforce Development Programs at Three U.S. Colleges

SYRACUSE, N.Y., May 26, 2016 -- Today the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF) released a report resulting from its Vocational Acceleration for Veterans Grant Program—a project funded by the Walmart Foundation through which the IVMF oversaw grants to a network of colleges and universities with student veteran-focused workforce development initiatives implemented in partnership with local workforce development agencies, businesses, and industry collaborators. The report highlights three schools—Del Mar College (Texas), Tarrant County College (Texas), and Wake Technical Community College (North Carolina)—and their unique continuing education programs that equip veterans with skills highly sought after by local and regional employers.

Authored by Zach Huitink, an IVMF research associate and a PhD candidate in Public Administration at Syracuse University's Maxwell School, the Vocational Acceleration Report showcases how each program blazed a trail to success. The case illustrations highlight the programs' approaches to recruitment and service delivery, survey their achievements to date, and identify five best practices that could inform how other colleges and universities implement vocational acceleration programs to advance both veteran employment and their underlying educational missions.

"These programs demonstrate the untapped potential of higher education to not only build a skilled workforce that will sustain American competitiveness in a rapidly changing global economy, but also position veterans and transitioning service members to contribute to that future and ultimately succeed," said IVMF Senior Director of Research and U.S. Army veteran Dr. Nick Armstrong. "Considering the freshly honed skills that these veterans bring to the workplace, combined with their discipline, leadership, and unwavering commitment to mission accomplishment, hiring veterans is not just a good deed for employers to do—it's good for business."

Keys to Success: Best Practices for Delivering Vocational Acceleration Services to Veterans and Transitioning Service Members

•    Pursue a multi-faceted recruitment strategy that leverages both personal- and institutional-level relationships with public, private, and nonprofit partners;
•    Design a program that harnesses existing resources and infrastructure to maximize program enrollment capacity and minimize time required to complete training;
•    Raise program stakeholders' "veterans IQ" by providing tools and knowledge necessary to understand the unique needs veterans bring to the learning environment;
•    Continuously gather data and feedback to tailor training to area employers' needs; and
•    Plan for the future: develop a vision and a plan of action for delivering additional training modules that equip veterans with more high-demand skills.

"By incorporating these practices into the development and implementation of their own programs, colleges and universities can put themselves in a stronger position to succeed using the vocational acceleration approach to advancing veterans employment," said Zach Huitink, author of the report.

According to Anthony M. Caison, Sr., Vice President for Workforce Continuing Education at Wake Technical Community College, vocational acceleration for returning veterans is crucial in assisting with the successful transition of veterans into the community as productive and contributing citizens. "Providing vocational training in an accelerated format for veterans with the requisite skills ensures that they can return to productive jobs in their communities in the shortest time possible, and with the industry credentials to go along with it," shared Caison. "Providing these opportunities to our returning veterans benefits the surrounding community and local economy by providing the foundation for stable veteran military families that have returned home and are able to contribute to the local economy through income earned as a result of valuable vocational training."

Jerry Hutyra, Coordinator of Workforce Training at Tarrant County College, added "There were many achievements with veterans completing the IVMF training program, and it has furnished Tarrant County, the Dallas-Fort Worth regional area, and the State of Texas with 'critically trained' workforce members."
 
View/download the report at http://vets.syr.edu/studentsuccess.

The author of the Vocational Acceleration Report and representatives from IVMF and the Walmart Foundation are available upon request to discuss the findings and highlights of the research. If interested in scheduling interviews, contact Wayne Westervelt, IVMF Director of Communications, at 315.443.5690; (m) 315.558.9483; or wwesterv@syr.edu. 

ABOUT THE VOCATIONAL ACCELERATION GRANTS PROGRAM

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Recognizing employers' need for individuals with coveted vocational skills—and the opportunity veterans offer these employers—the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), with support from the Walmart Foundation, created the Vocational Acceleration Grants Program ("Vocational Accelerator Program"). Launched in 2013, the purpose of this effort is to seed, cultivate, and provide technical support for a network of workforce development programs focused on delivering vocational education to veterans and transitioning service members. The funding supports programs that equip veterans with high demand vocational skills, and connects them with employers actively seeking out those skills. Each program aims to deliver a fast-paced, vocation-specific sequence of instruction and training that prepares veterans for jobs with community employers. Since the training occurs outside the confines and constraints of a traditional two- or four-year degree track, the programs offer veterans an opportunity to quickly acquire new and highly sought-after skills that accelerate their employment.

ABOUT THE INSTITUTE FOR VETERANS AND MILITARY FAMILIES (IVMF)

The IVMF is the first interdisciplinary national institute in higher education focused on the social, economic, education, and policy issues impacting veterans and their families post-service. Through the focus on veterans programming, research and policy, employment and employer support, and community engagement, the Institute provides in-depth analysis of the challenges facing the veteran community, captures best practices, and serves as a forum to facilitate new partnerships and strong relationships between the individuals and organizations committed to making a difference for veterans and military families.

A photo accompanying this release is available at: http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=40369

CONTACT: Wayne A. Westervelt,
         Director of Communications,
         Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF),
         315.443.5690; (m) 315.558.9483; or wwesterv@syr.edu
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