New state website helps veterans find jobs
Database helps identify employment that matches military experience
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After graduating from Northwest High School in 2004, Akiem Watley of Hyattsville enlisted and spent five years in the Navy as an electrician aboard the USS City of Corpus Christi, a nuclear attack submarine.
But when he returned to Prince George's County in 2009, Watley said he discovered that his experience wasn't enough to find a job that was similar to the work he had performed in his military career. He ended up working security for a construction company before he decided to go back to school.
"Security was the best I could do," said Watley, who attends Prince George's Community College full-time. "The other jobs all require a degree."
To address the challenge veterans face as they search for jobs that match their military experience, Maryland officials unveiled a new website, mil2fedjobs.com, which helps veterans find jobs in the federal sector that match their skills. The site was commissioned by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation using about $200,000 from a federal grant for military employment.
"We all know that we have an obligation to serve those who have served our country," Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D) said at a news conference Tuesday announcing the website. "We need to take action to connect our veterans to the jobs that are available."
The site was designed by Solutions for Information Design, a Burke, Va., company.
The site bests other search engines by translating military jargon better than the typical Internet job finder, said DLLR Secretary Alexander Sanchez. Soldiers enter their military job description in the site and it returns only jobs with the same skills.
"Civilian and military titles don't always match," he said.
For example, a "damage control" specialist in the U.S. Navy is a master firefighter, responsible for stopping and preventing fires aboard a ship. But when Sanchez searched that position on another federal job site, he said it returned a variety of unrelated jobs, including marine biologist, nurse and about 50 other listings.
The same search on the new state website results in a dozen listings for firefighting and engineering positions that better suit the veteran. The site is currently only listing federal jobs. Officials said they hope to add state positions and some private sector listings soon, and are offering to clone the site in other states.
"We'd be happy for other states to steal this portal," Sanchez said.
Veterans' unemployment has become an increasing concern. Recent U.S. Labor statistics estimated that about 20 percent of recently discharged soldiers younger than 25 are unemployed in the United States.
Del. Melony G. Griffith (D-Dist. 25) of Upper Marlboro said she hopes the site will be a benefit, especially in Prince George's County, where there are an estimated 72,000 military veterans, the highest in the state.
"The state can provide it, but we have to make sure that [people] are aware of it and can take advantage of it," she said.
Watley, who attended the news conference announcing the website, said he has already found seven listings he hopes to pursue.
"It looks like a good tool," he said.