Government Seeks Vets Interested in STEM Jobs

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An interagency program that provides on-the-job training to veterans and helps them transition to federal careers will focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics occupations in 2015.

Vets to Feds, a result of President Obama’s 2009 executive order directing federal agencies to hire more veterans, is launching a new career track in February to attract vets interested in STEM jobs. The STEM initiative is the fourth such Vets to Feds program, which started in 2011 when the Office of Personnel Management teamed up with the Council on Veterans Employment. Other V2F career development tracks have focused on helping train and educate vets interested in becoming contract specialists and information technology specialists.

V2F is a program designed to support Obama’s overall vets hiring initiative. Participating agencies identify key occupations, targeting veteran candidates and providing them with the necessary counseling and training to be successful employees. The initiative seeks vets who are students, recent graduates or eligible for special hiring authorities, including Pathways or Veterans Recruitment Appointment.

Eric Brown, V2F program manager at OPM, said 10 agencies now are “definitely” interested in participating in the STEM initiative, and 10 more are likely to sign onto the program. Agencies can choose which STEM occupations they want to target, type of hiring authorities to use, and which grade level (3-9) to assign to the jobs.

Between 50 and 100 federal positions across the country are expected to be available as part of V2F STEM. Since V2F was created three years ago, 16 agencies have participated in one or more programs, 138 vets have been hired through the initiative, and more than 80 percent of those hires are still employed.

Brown talked about the new V2F program during a federal chief human capital officers meeting in Washington on Tuesday. OPM Director Katherine Archuleta urged CHCOs across government to find ways to bring women of color who are vets into the program.

According to the Merit Systems Protection Board, veterans hired in 2012 through the Veterans Employment Opportunities Act and Veterans’ Recruitment Appointment authorities were overwhelmingly male -- 80 percent and 76 percent, respectively -- since men still dominate in the military. MSPB also found that more than 35 percent of those hired under what’s known as competitive examining, the standard hiring authority, were veterans.

But that increase has contributed to an unintended consequence – the government hiring fewer women. “Our research shows that as use of veterans hiring authorities increased, the percentage of female new hires decreased,” MSPB said.

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