Today, Gov. Dave Heineman is promoting "The Good Life for Veterans" jobs recruiting campaign, focused on meeting Nebraska's workforce needs through attracting military veterans and their families from other states to move to Nebraska. The initiative is a partnership between state government, business and veterans groups including the Nebraska Department of Labor, the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Nebraska's private business employers and others.
"Employers like to hire veterans because our businesses are looking for skilled employees and veterans bring excellent skills to the workforce," said Gov. Heineman. "Following active duty deployments, many servicemen and women are looking for employment and a place to call home. Nebraska's diverse job opportunities combined with our high quality of life make our state a perfect location."
Nebraska employers and other representatives are attending a series of military career fairs in several states, including a career expo in Lawton, Okla. held in February and a Hiring Our Heroes career fair today at Fort Riley in Junction City, Kan. Nebraska will also have a presence at the Fort Carson employment fair in Colorado Springs, Colo. on May 22. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado had a higher number of unemployed veterans than Nebraska in 2013. Around a third of the states averaged veteran unemployment rates of 7 percent or above, including several states averaging above 10 percent.
The initiative began after a Nebraska Chamber survey found that more than half of nearly 450 private business survey respondents had experienced difficulty hiring qualified employees during the past year. More than 25 percent of respondents said a lack of available labor or skilled employees was the key issue limiting their growth. At the same time, employers have expressed their desire for the commitment, maturity and diversity that exists within the veteran population.
"With Nebraska's unemployment rate hovering around 3.7 percent, help wanted signs are plentiful all across our state," said Barry Kennedy, the Nebraska Chamber president. "Military veterans offer employers a wide array of skills, a strong work ethic and proven self-discipline. Moreover, they are mobile and willing to relocate for good opportunities. Nebraska's presence at military jobs fairs is part of a focused strategy to expand our skilled labor force. We appreciate the attention devoted to this initiative by the Governor and the Department of Labor."
To attract veterans from states with higher veteran unemployment, the campaign is highlighting Nebraska's quality of life in addition to the available jobs. Nebraska's well-being is highly ranked according to Gallup surveys, and the overall cost of living is 11 percent below the U.S. average according to MarketWatch.com. Additionally, veterans who have separated from the military are now eligible for in-state tuition at Nebraska's state colleges and universities.
"We are excited to be part of this initiative that benefits both employers and veterans," said Commissioner of Labor and Director of Economic Development Cathy Lang. "Nebraska consistently has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, so finding ways to attract new workers to our labor force is always a priority. Veterans and their families are welcomed by Nebraskans and our excellent employers."
When looking at possible career choices, data from NEworks, the Department of Labor's employment website, shows that Nebraska's health care, manufacturing, and transportation industries have a high number of available jobs. Scientific, administrative and construction positions are also available.
The Nebraska Chamber has established the website www.TheGoodLifeForVeterans.com to help share the initiative with out-of-state veterans, including former Nebraska residents. The site contains information about living and working in Nebraska, as well as veteran services, education, recreation and entertainment. The Department of Labor produced a video titled "Nebraska Hires Veterans" that can be found on the website and features veterans from across the country who have found good jobs in Nebraska. Additionally, the recruiting video is highlighted on www.Nebraska.gov and the Governor's website, www.Governor.Nebraska.gov.
The "Nebraska Hires Veterans" video is being distributed nationally to and by veterans, their friends and family, veteran support organizations and many others to draw job-seeking veterans to Nebraska. The video features veterans from various parts of the country, and a wide array of occupations, discussing why Nebraska truly is "The Good Life" when you're transitioning from military service.
Those employers interested in more information on upcoming recruiting fairs can contact Grace Johnson with the Nebraska Department of Labor at (402) 471-4189 or Grace.Johnson@nebraska.gov.
The Good Life for Veterans initiative builds off of the recent Hire Our Heroes career hiring events being held throughout the state, which is the cooperative effort between the United States Chamber of Commerce, the Nebraska Department of Labor and the Nebraska National Guard that helps veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment in Nebraska. Since the first event was held in Lincoln in April 2012, there have been 12 Hiring Our Heroes events held in Nebraska. These job fairs have been held in Lincoln, Omaha, Norfolk, Alliance, Holdrege, Papillion, Beatrice and Grand Island. The hiring fairs have served approximately 1,500 veterans and 350 employers.