Hiring veterans boosts Central Texas businesses

Photo by Lain Yandahi

Central Texas is a growing hub for technology and innovation, and the concentration of current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces in our region is a major asset for the businesses and communities that are key to this economic dynamism.

The large presence of veterans and reservists in Central Texas was among the factors in the ongoing expansion of Accenture in the region. As a U.S. Marine Corps veteran myself, I'm honored to work alongside the military veterans here in Texas and across the country, and to also be part of our effort to hire 5,000 more veterans and military spouses by 2020.

The skills that veterans hone during their military experience — leadership, teamwork and discipline, to highlight a few — are often an excellent fit at fast-growing, dynamic firms such as ours. Veterans and active-duty military reservists are such a valuable source of talent that we not only have a dedicated recruiting team focused on the military community but also waive our standard college-degree requirement for some positions where military recruits already have the skills necessary to be job-ready. We tap our own people too, encouraging them to refer candidates and compensate those whose referrals end in hiring of veterans.

We also partner with dozens of military-focused nonprofit organizations, attend career fairs across the country and use analytics to match the skill sets and geographic locations of military candidates who correspond to available jobs. Our goal is 5,000 by 2020, and we'll achieve that through a number of initiatives to attract former active-duty personnel and current reservists who possess the experience, skills or aptitude to be successful in a technology, operations or consulting career.

One such initiative is a new technology training program that helps veterans become Java software programmers. Program participants get scholarships for a two-month course provided by an online education company. Those who complete the course receive professional certification and job interviews for entry-level software engineering positions.

Another targeted initiative is our Student Veteran Program, a national effort that helps attract top veterans who are pursuing undergraduate and MBA degrees, working in concert with our Junior Military Officer Program to connect us with current military officers with three to seven years of leadership experience who could be a good fit for consulting roles.

Veterans in Central Texas have access to the benefits of these national programs, but it's also important to help these individuals relate their skills and experience in real-world job settings. For many veterans, this seems an impossibly difficult task, but there are ways to help. For example, right here in Texas we are partnering with the 502d Air Base Wing Career Skills Program at Joint Base San Antonio to help prepare soldiers for the transition from military to civilian employment. The program provides credentialing, training, apprenticeships and internships to active-duty service members who will soon be leaving military service. We are providing apprenticeships, on-the-job training, job shadowing and employment skills training, with the goal of helping veterans gain employment in the civilian sector, including in our company's fast-growing Central Texas workforce.

The hiring and onboarding of veterans needs to be complemented by ongoing support in order to ensure their success. It is crucial for companies seeking to hire veterans to make a commitment to continual improvement and creating workplace environments that help veterans thrive professionally once they arrive. We have an Accenture Military Veterans Employee Resource Group (open to all veterans hired), which is critically important to strengthening how we recruit, develop, retain and support veterans.

Smart companies need to think and act strategically to effectively tap the veteran talent pool. Our range of career opportunities, tailored resources and dynamic environment for veterans are making us a better and more successful company. As other companies struggle to meet their hiring needs, one consideration that makes sense would be to adopt similar efforts more broadly across the business community in Central Texas and around the country.

Tom Pettit

Senior managing director, Accenture