From defending our nation to powering innovation: connecting veterans to STEM careers

American flag.

By Hugo Malan

At Kelly, we know that military veterans are invaluable contributors to the civilian workforce. In fact, more than 8,500 U.S. veterans, current reservists and military spouses are employed by Kelly directly or placed on assignment with Kelly clients every year. I’m fortunate to have several leaders on my team with a veteran background.

Within the domains where Kelly Science, Engineering, Technology & Telecom operates, veterans are particularly well suited to succeed. And, with more than 200,000 service women and men projected to be discharged from active duty each year, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs1, veterans represent an opportunity for employers to gain the edge in the competition for STEM talent.

The case for recruiting veterans in STEM

According to research from the Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families2, veterans bring an important set of abilities and attributes to the workplace. Leadership and accountability are among the most frequently cited – and these are certainly important. However, there are other abilities and attributes to consider, especially in the context of STEM roles. For example: the ability to operate with discipline inside structured protocols, the ability to develop creative technical solutions under pressure, and experience collaborating on cross-cultural and diverse teams.

Furthermore, the findings from the Student Veterans of America3 shows that a notable 24% of veterans pursue degrees in STEM disciplines, reflecting a marked preference for these fields. Their academic excellence is equally impressive, with veterans achieving a 72% success rate in their educational endeavors and maintaining higher GPAs compared to their civilian peers. The unique blend of disciplined study habits, coupled with real-life experience and adept problem-solving capabilities, renders veterans an especially invaluable asset within the STEM community. In industries that demand highly skilled engineers, scientists, and IT professionals, overlooking the veteran talent pool represents a missed opportunity. Their proven capabilities and untapped potential make veterans a critical resource for companies aiming to innovate and excel in the competitive STEM sector.


Knocking down barriers to STEM careers for veterans

Despite the significant opportunity before employers, obstacles remain for veterans who seek fulfilling STEM careers in the civilian workforce. Among them: an incomplete understanding among company leaders as to how veterans’ military experience translates to the civilian roles for which they are hiring. Employers that are positioned to gain the edge in the competition for STEM talent are taking steps to eliminate this barrier through strategic initiatives and public-private partnerships.

At Kelly, we support ongoing relationships with all branches of the armed services. Our company, as well as our leaders, are actively involved with several veteran employment organizations, including, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s, the Military Spouse Employment Partnership, and Warriors4Wireless. For our efforts to recruit, hire and train veterans and military spouses, we have been named a 2024 Military Friendly® Employer and Military Friendly® Spouse Employer. These efforts are rooted in our noble purpose: to connect people to work in ways that enrich their lives.

Joining together to honor those who have served

As we honor our veterans for their service, let’s work together to eliminate barriers to work for these heroes who have sacrificed so much to secure the liberty and safety that we enjoy every day. Our team stands ready to engage with like-minded organizations and connect more veterans to opportunities on the cutting edge of science, engineering, and technology. Not only is it good for business and our country – it’s quite simply the right thing to do.

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