VA and IBM collaboration to build pathways for Veteran success

VA and IBM are collaborating to build pathways for Veteran success. What does that mean for Veterans?

Learning in postsecondary education is undergoing tremendous change. Innovations in technology, teaching and business models are driving this rapid change. Non-traditional training providers offer educational opportunities to students in new ways, such as through intensive short-term programs, online or blended approaches, or through personalized/adaptive learning.

As one of VA’s strategic goals, VA Secretary Denis McDonough has made providing opportunities for Veterans, through innovative employment and education programs, a priority. VA wants to be on the forefront of providing training in technology and cybersecurity, and who better to join this call to action than Veterans?

On May 10, VA and IBM announced a collaboration at IBM’s THINK on Tour 2022 event in Boston, to connect Veterans to training and networking programs that lead to gainful employment in technology fields. Representing VA on one of its expert panels, I participated in a discussion which explored the importance of credentialing in today’s workforce.

VA wants Veterans to have as many pathways to employment and career success as possible, beyond and in coordination with its own G.I. Bill, training and employment programs. This is an urgent need and goes further than hiring. Training and credentials are key. VA and IBM’s collaboration will offer our Veterans a special opportunity to obtain skills, secure lasting credentials, and find job opportunities across companies and industries worldwide.

VA and IBM executed this agreement to facilitate hiring of graduates of VA’s Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC) and bring IBM’s SkillsBuild platform to Veterans and their families. Participants can earn IBM-branded digital credentials to certify their relevant skills, and a global network of 90 organizations help connect learners with local job opportunities.

The IBM SkillsBuild platform is a free, digital training program to develop valuable new skills and help find jobs, regardless of background or education, by offering access to 1,000+ courses on workplace skills, like collaboration and presentation, and more technical skills like data analytics, cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cloud computing. It provides diagnostics, online coursework, resume-building certifications, 1:1 coaching from mentors, project-based learning and virtual job fairs.

VA’s VET TEC Program similarly pairs eligible Veterans with technology training providers to earn certification in a high-tech career field, and boosts technical skills like coding, cloud computing and data processing. Veterans are provided with training in one of the five high-tech fields, as well as tuition, fees and a monthly housing allowance. Students graduate from the program with exceptional soft skills, such as leadership, critical thinking and resilience, making them ready to start their careers at innovative companies.

Through our VET TEC Employer Consortium, employers play a major role in a student’s career.  Made up of more than 20 employer partners and over 30 participating training providers offering more than 60 training programs, VA connects with employers to provide VET TEC students with interviewing tips, mentoring, networking and resume assistance. Employer partners provide students with the tips needed to apply for competitive roles in tech, give students an inside scoop about career opportunities at their company, and offer students the opportunity to build their professional networks.

Together with VET TEC, IBM’s SkillsBuild will help Veterans pursue customized learning paths and other accelerated, non-traditional job training for high-demand technology careers. It will also be an enhanced resource for transitioning service members who are seeking job training and credentials to pursue a career after completing their service. VA and IBM have a shared goal to connect VET TEC graduates with employment opportunities, resources, people and organizations willing to invest in their growth and take advantage of their knowledge, skills and abilities.


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