Labor Department rolls out job-search website for veterans

Thursday - 11/10/2011, 10:27am EST

Jane Oates, assistant secretary for the Employment and Training Administration, Labor Department

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By Jack Moore
Federal News Radio

The Labor Department has rolled out a new website aimed at helping veterans leverage the skills they've learned from military service to find a job in the civilian sector

It's called "My Next Move for Veterans," an offshoot of another online resource called "My Next Move," which aimed at the general public.

The new veteran-specific site helps military personnel find civilian jobs that fit their skills and includes information about salaries, training, education and apprenticeships. Microsoft will provide support for the website.

Translating skills into civilian jobs

What makes the website unique is that it allows veterans to enter in their military job codes and find similar civilian jobs, said Jane Oates, the assistant secretary for the Employment and Training Administration at the Labor Department, in an interview with the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris

For example, an Army veteran who worked as a wheeled-vehicle mechanic can simply enter the code "91B" and a list of similar private-sector jobs will pop up, she added.

Oates likened the search function as a "translator" between military skills and opportunities in the private sector.

"These are the people that help us sleep at night by protecting our country and keeping us safe. We should make it easier for them to transition from their military careers to good civilian careers," Oates said.

As the Labor Department has rolled out various online job search tools, one of the strongest and most consistent pieces of feedback was that veterans, in particular, are struggling to find work in the stalled economy, she explained.

For post-9/11 veterans, the unemployment rate in October was 12.1 percent, she noted.

Site built on cross-agency collaboration

While the idea for the site was only hatched a few weeks ago, she said, the staff worked quickly to launch the site in time Veterans Day. The site went live on Monday.

"This is good government and innovative government at its best," Oates said. And it all comes from the talented federal workers who were here long before I was," she said.

Just two hours after Labor launched the site, Oates said, she received the first comments from a veteran in Iowa, who told her he never thought about how connected some of the skills he used in the military were to job opportunities in the civilian sector .

The Labor Department didn't break the bank in launching the site either, Oates added.

Because it's built on the already existing "My Next Move" platform, it was very cost-effective, Oates said. Rather than staffing up for the project, Labor turned to cross-agency collaboration, she explained.

"The days are over when we bring on more people," Oates said. Instead, Labor leveraged support from the Defense and Veterans Affairs Departments to decipher the military job codes, for example. The lesson? "Instead of buying outside talent, use our inside talent and reach across our offices," she said.