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How the Tech Industry Can Support Our Veterans

Gary Shapiro, President and CEO, Consumer Technology Association (CTA)
Today, on National Poppy Day, you’ll see people donning poppies in honor of the men and women who have fought to defend the freedoms that make the United States great. 
In addition to protecting our country at home and abroad, our military is perhaps our most effective and massive jobs creation and training program, building character while arming service members with critical job skills. And the tech industry is the perfect place for veterans to start their careers after they complete their service.
A CTA survey of 300 tech executives found that 86 percent of execs say they need more employees with technical skills, but 70 percent can’t find these kinds of employees. Tech disruption and automation are shifting the labor market away from unskilled labor and increasingly toward more high-skilled talent that can program and operate this automation. The skills gap is real – and pressing. If we want to keep our global lead, we must put an emphasis on effective education and focus on proven job training programs such as the U.S. military. 
I realized this when I spent two days on the USS John Stennis aircraft carrier. While there, I encountered young men and women of a caliber that is rare in my experience. Many of them were supported by training in cybersecurity, cloud computing and network management – key skills that tech employers want. But, more importantly, they were hard-working, they were team players, they were problem-solvers, and above all, they were humble and teachable. In short, they were the kind of people I would want to hire.
That’s why CTA decided to commit $250,000 to the U.S. Tech Vets program – a job database that takes military skills and puts them into language that tech employers can understand. Our hope is that this investment will help solve both the employment problems in the tech industry and the employment problems faced by veterans.
So, consider sporting a patriotic poppy on Friday the 26 – it’s a great way to get the conversation going about how to help our veterans, to whom we owe our many, many freedoms. But we must also show support by training and hiring veterans after they complete their service.
Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)TM, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,200 consumer technology companies, and author of the New York Times best-selling books, Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World's Most Successful Businesses and The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream. His views are his own. Connect with him on Twitter: @GaryShapiro