Organization helping Idaho veterans get back into the workforce

Posted at 1:48 PM, May 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 11:09:34-04

The Idaho Division of Veteran's Services, along with their community partners, are working to connect veterans with the resources they need to transition to civilian life--including helping them get into the workforce.

"The State Veteran's Services Officers work with veterans of all ages on really anything and everything that they can advocate on their behalf," explained Stephen Tamm, an Education Specialist with the Idaho Division of Veteran's Services.

Tamm and his team act as liaisons between veterans and employers, connecting them with apprenticeships where they can get hands-on work experience.

"We absolutely want to expand programming in terms of growing apprenticeship opportunities, growing on-the-job training opportunities, and growing more higher-ed opportunities," Tamm said.

As Idaho News 6 has reported, data shows the scarcity of skilled workers is growing more intense, despite the amount of unemployment created by the pandemic--but the need for those skilled workers continues to grow. Of the top six industries that showed the greatest job gains, construction was in second place with 7 percent of job gains.

Tamm hopes his work will end up being a win-win: veterans will be set up for success, and they could help fill the skilled worker gap.

"The reason those (jobs) are so important is that they really stabilize the economy. The economy in the state is growing and we know our population is growing. If we're going to grow our state's economy, we have to have these skilled labor positions. We have to have trades," Tamm said.

According to the Idaho Department of Labor (IDOL), Idaho's economy is continuing to rebound faster than almost anywhere in the country. Data from the department says Idaho is the first state in the country to see job growth recover to and even exceed pre-pandemic levels in almost all industries.

Idaho hit historic high rates of unemployment last year, but according to the latest data from IDOL, Idaho's unemployment rate is now resting at 3.2%.

Even still, some companies are struggling to fill open positions. Bob Vetter, Manager of the Idaho Department of Labor's Caldwell Branch, says it's become a competitive job market--in a different way than years past.

"In years past, recessions past, it's been the other way around--there were lots of job seekers looking for a small number of jobs," Vetter says. "Now it's the other way around and job seekers should come and take advantage."

If you'd like to learn more about Veteran Apprenticeship Services, click here.