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Witness Testimony of Jolene Jefferies, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, DirectEmployers Association

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 

Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, DirectEmployers Association (DirectEmployers.org) is owned and managed by over 600 leading U.S. corporations through a 501(c)(6) non-profit employer consortium.  The Association’s mission is to provide employers an employment network that is cost-effective, improves labor market efficiency and reaches an ethnically diverse national and international workforce.

Primary issues and obstacles our member employers say they face in recruiting veterans are:

  • Clarification—While a majority of employers believe VEVRAA regulations are effective, it was noted that further clarifications are needed (e.g., the OFCCP’s standards to evaluate Good Faith Efforts (GFE) by federal contractors is inconsistent between 60-2(AA for Women and Minorities) and 60-250 (AA for Veterans).
  • Skills/Education Translation—The military workforce is challenged with the translation and transference of their education and skills to demonstrate their possession of the minimum and preferred job qualifications and/or requirements for which civilian employers seek.
  • Military/Civilian Certification—Several professions require accredited specialization that involves learned knowledge, certification and/or testing by a job seeker.  Transitioning military workforce may be at a disadvantage without such accreditations. All levels of government need to implement solutions that effectively balance current challenges with educational system gaps, the accreditation of job seekers, and the fiscal demands and resources of civilian employers.
  • Lack of Data—There is no reliable data source that takes into account the available pool of the military workforce that demonstrates the correlation of standardized job, industry, and geographic classification codes that are consistent with other reported federal labor, employment, economic, and census data.
  • OFCCP Consistency—Federal contractors have experienced challenges from the OFCCP, especially during compliance evaluations, two concurrent phenomena that hampers collaboration: 1) their knowledge and appreciation of how state workforce agencies operate, and 2) their dissemination of communications, staff training, and application of standards and procedures across and between their national, regional and district offices consistently.

 

Chairman Miller, Representative Filner, and Members of the Committee, on behalf of DirectEmployers Association, I thank you for the opportunity to submit written testimony addressing our Association’s Veterans’ education, employment, and job search programs for employers.  DirectEmployers Association and its members are strong proponents of activities benefiting the employment of qualified veterans through programs such as those under the Committee’s jurisdiction. 

Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, DirectEmployers Association (DirectEmployers.org) is owned and managed by over 600 leading U.S. corporation executives through a 501(c)(6) non-profit employer consortium.  The Association’s mission is to provide employers an employment network that is cost-effective, improves labor market efficiency and reaches an ethnically diverse national and international workforce.

Consistent with our mission, we partnered with The National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) in 2007 to create the JobCentral National Labor Exchange (NLX).  The NLX replaced the previously federally-funded America’s Job Bank and provides employers an OFCCP compliance vehicle for providing job listings to veterans as well as access to our nation’s state workforce system.  It is available free-of-charge to all employers, regardless of size, in all industries.

For most employers, OFCCP compliance is not the driving force.  We are seeing more and more companies establishing programs to pro-actively recruit veterans because they provide such an outstanding talent-pool resource.  The Association assists employers’ efforts in many ways.  We provide an outstanding Hiring & Retaining Veterans webinar education and training series, job search programs, and job distribution services to help member companies recruit our nation’s service members and their dependents. The focus of these programs is on helping transitioning service members, veterans and their families find and maintain meaningful employment. 

In a recent in-house survey, some of the issues and obstacles our member employers say they face in recruiting veterans are:

  • While a majority of employers believe VEVRAA regulations are effective, it was noted that further clarifications are needed (e.g., the OFCCP’s standards to evaluate Good Faith Efforts (GFE) by federal contractors is inconsistent between 60-2(AA for Women and Minorities) and 60-250 (AA for Veterans).
  • Because employers utilize a “just-in-time” hiring process, employers would benefit from learning about DoL, DoD, and related federal and state employment services that support this model (e.g., recognizing that turnover in HR/Recruiting departments is dynamic and sometimes involves knowledge transfer gaps; as well as utilizing the Internet, social media platforms and related technologies are becoming commonplace; the impact of this is that companies are seeking to leverage cost/time-effective resources that provide immediate recruiting solutions).
  • The military workforce is challenged with the translation and transference of their education and skills to demonstrate their possession of the minimum and preferred job qualifications and/or requirements for which civilian employers seek.
  • Several professions require accredited specialization that involves learned knowledge, certification and/or testing by a job seeker.  Transitioning military workforce may be at a disadvantage without such accreditations. All levels of government need to implement solutions that effectively balance current challenges with educational system gaps, the accreditation of job seekers, and the fiscal demands and resources of civilian employers.
  • There is no reliable data source that takes into account the available pool of the military workforce that demonstrates the correlation of standardized job, industry, and geographic classification codes that are consistent with other reported federal labor, employment, economic, and census data.
  • In order for civilian employers to improve the recruitment of the military workforce, such data sources are needed.  To create a standardized data source/report will require data surveys, validation and analyses that may take several years to complete, akin to other federal employment and labor-related data sets (e.g. census, EEO special file, et. al).
  • Federal contractors have experienced challenges from the OFCCP, especially during compliance evaluations, two concurrent phenomena that hampers collaboration: 1) their knowledge and appreciation of how state workforce agencies operate, and 2) their dissemination of communications, staff training, and application of standards and procedures across and between their national, regional and district offices consistently.
  • OFCCP should engage in town hall meetings, open forums, and other bridge-building dialogue with private-sector federal contractors to demonstrate that the agency values the contributions of this subset, especially with regard to key agency developments that impact these relationships (e.g., regulatory changes, directives, and/or procedures).
  • The pre-employment voluntary self-identification of disability status by job seekers (including disabled veterans) is prohibited by the ADA.  Thus, there must exist between the OFCCP and EEOC mutually-agreed upon interagency standards, guidance, permission and employer indemnity permitting employers to collect, evaluate and make  employment selection decisions based on these data.
  • The letter and the spirit of key employment and federal contractor regulations and laws require that employers make objective employment-related selection decisions.  Enacting a mandatory procedure that mirrors the combination of the “priority of service” process and a “veterans preference” policy (akin to U.S. State One-Stop Centers) raises a regulatory tension with these laws, including rendering a result of unintentional adverse impact among other protected classes (i.e., E.O. 11246, Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment and Assistance Act, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act as amended, Uniform Guidelines on Employment Selection Procedures, Title VII, et. al).

DirectEmployers  Association continues to work with NASWA in multiple ways, including veterans employment webinars for both employers and state workforce agencies, to help all employers effectively recruit veterans:

JobCentral National Labor Exchange (NLX)

A key service of the NLX is a comprehensive suite of programs and services to assist employers (e.g., federal government contractors) in complying with the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) regulations, as amended by the Jobs for Veterans Act (JVA) and developing Affirmative Action Programs to attract veterans.  Direct Compliance is the most comprehensive 4212 VEVRAA/JVA compliance assistance program and is offered to employers who are members of DirectEmployers Association.  Members can have their job openings automatically indexed (scraped) directly from their corporate career sites and made available to veterans through the NLX and VetCentral, which assists participating members in complying with JVA regulations.

VetCentral is a unique feature of the NLX which feeds job listings to State Employment Services offices nationwide.  VetCentral is fully integrated into the NLX.  Member’s job openings are sent to the appropriate (Wagner-Peyser) employment service delivery system via email or, in many cases, entered into the state job bank and records are maintained for each transaction.  In the event of an Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) audit, employers can easily show these records to the auditor to demonstrate compliance requirements.

DirectEmployers Association surpasses the minimum requirements to distribute jobs to appropriate employment delivery systems in two ways:

  • through the JobCentral National Labor Exchange(NLX) that provides an automated job listing feed to state job banks; and,
  • through VetCentral – a unique service of the NLX which feeds jobs to State Employment Services offices nationwide. 

The comprehensive NLX program includes an automated, efficient and very cost-effective resource for employers to ensure their company’s job openings are delivered accurately and reliably to the state workforce system—the appropriate (Wagner-Peyser) local employment service office(s)—including the Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program (DVOP) coordinators and Local Veterans’ Employment Representatives (LVER) program.  The DVOP/LVER staff is trained to meet the specific needs of veterans and they can be very instrumental in referring veteran applicants to an organization, so it’s helpful for employers to develop local relationships with DVOPs and LVERs.  Employers can locate the DVOPs and LVERs in the states they operate in by visiting the National Veterans’ Training Institute’s (NVTI’s) DVOP/LVER Locator.  The DVOP/LVER staff is also very familiar with the complete range of employment services and training programs available for veterans at the State Workforce Agency CareerOneStop Centers and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program locations. 

In addition to working with the CareerOneStops Centers and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the DVOPs and LVERs also work closely with Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs).  VSOs can also help employers get the word out to veterans about an organization’s job opportunities.  Through the NLX and its partnership with NASWA, DirectEmployers Association offers assistance to its members in reaching out to these state and local partners to establish their employer’s own direct relationships and partnerships at the local level.

NLX also receives a download of jobs from USAJOBS and distributing them to state job banks.  Sponsored by the federal Office of Personnel Management, USAJOBS is a job bank containing federal government positions.  This download of federal job openings is available to states for inclusion in their states job banks.  To date, the following states have requested the USAJOBs be included  in their state job bank: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

DirectEmployers Association is proud to be the provider of jobs data for “MySkillsMyFuture”, a valuable U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration web site which was launched last September.  It is designed to connect workers with high quality training and local employment opportunities.  DirectEmployers Association’s jobs, including job listings from State Workforce Agencies, are now included in the U.S. Department of Labor’s MySkillsMyFuture, MyNextMove, and CareerOneStop employment sites.  

Military-specific organizations receiving NLX job listings include:

  •  JobCentral National Labor Exchange, or “NLX”
  • Disabled Veterans Outreach Program Coordinators (DVOPs)
  • Local Veterans Employment Representatives (LVERs)
  •  The .Jobs Universe Military Network
  • Armed Forces Employer Partnership  (operated by the U.S. Army Reserve for all Reserve Components)
  • HirePatriots.com
  • Military Spouse Corporate Career Network (MSCCN)
  • National Marine Corps Business Network (NMCBN)
  • RecruitMilitary.com
  • Save Our Veterans
  • Veterans Enterprise
  • VetSuccess.gov   (operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs)

The .Jobs Universe Military Network

Earlier this year, DirectEmployers Association announced an extensive online program to assist transitioning military personnel in all branches of our armed forces, their spouses, dependents, and caregivers in quickly and efficiently finding employment.  The program is available free-of-charge to all employers and will provide military personnel and their dependents access to more than 880,000 employment opportunities from over 90,000 employers nationwide. 

The Association announced that over 5,800 dot-jobs (.jobs) domains have been added to the .Jobs Universe (www.universe.jobs) to create employment services for returning veterans (www.veterans.jobs) and their families.  The domains use the Military Occupational Classification (MOC) Crosswalk to assist military personnel in transitioning from active duty to employment opportunities in the civilian workforce.  Transitioning military personnel can enter their MOC plus.jobsinto their browser to locate civilian occupations requiring the same or similar skills as their previous military job (e.g.www.42F.jobs,www.25B.jobs,www.2891.jobs).

The .Jobs Universe also provides a MilitaryFamily(www.militaryfamily.jobs)feature.  This is designed to help military spouses, dependents and caregivers quickly locate employment while their loved ones are serving our country.  Military families can enter the name of their military installation plus the intuitive .jobs suffix into their browser and receive a list of employment opportunities on their assigned base or in surrounding cities (e.g. www.CampPendleton.jobs, www.NewportNewsShipyard.jobs, www.FtKnox.jobs).

This new effort to assist our veterans and their families is further demonstration of the value and benefit of the .jobs platform.  It is free for employers, veterans, and their families and it is organized to fit the way people use the Internet to search for jobs and the way companies go about attracting specific skills and experience with no artificial barriers in between.   With the extra steps taken to ensure that only legitimate job listings from real companies are included, veterans and their families can have confidence in using this service to submit their background information over the Internet.

“This is a great program for the entire human resource community as well as our transitioning military and their families. I am very proud to be a part of this exciting initiative in support of those who have unselfishly given so much for our nation,” states, Rhonda Stickley, a six-year U.S. Army veteran and current human resource executive at Seattle-based Providence Health & Services.

DirectEmployers’ new military .jobs initiative expands the potential of an already established and robust partnership with the public sector, the National Labor Exchange (NLX).  Offered in partnership with the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA), the NLX is a free, job-search engine feeding job openings into 50 publicly-funded state job banks.   This has substantially increased offerings to all jobseekers, and especially veterans.  Since March 2007, the NLX has provided over 9 million, unduplicated, current jobs to state workforce agency staff dedicated to serving veterans.  The NLX uses no federal funds for operations, research, or development.  Rather, this unique public-private partnership leverages private, non-profit-owned technology with existing state workforce agency resources to enhance offerings to veterans. 

The NLX partners are looking forward to continuing their work with the Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) to offer comprehensive, coordinated services to returning service members and military families.  DirectEmployers shares VETS’ vision and commitment to expand career opportunities for Veterans, transitioning service members, and their families.

Alicia Wallace, EEO Program Consultant for WellPoint and a military veteran whose husband is a retired infantry officer says, “I salute all companies supporting these outstanding military programs. As a nation, we should do all we can for the gallant men and women who serve in our armed forces. These individuals and their families have made great sacrifices for our country and deserve all the gratitude and support we can provide.”

Recruitment Regulatory Compliance Committee

DirectEmployers Association has established a Recruitment Regulatory Compliance Committee (RRCC) to provide consultation and guidance for our Association and member companies on issues related to veterans’ employment and all regulatory matters, especially those relating to the employment of veterans.

The RRCC is chaired by Jason Capili, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, co-chaired by Jolene Jefferies, DirectEmployers Association, and consists of two National Industry Liaison Group (NILG) members, a NASWA representative and an external consultant in addition to twenty DirectEmployers Association member company representatives.

The primary purpose of the RRCC is to assist the Board in overseeing DirectEmployers’ recruitment compliance services and related programs as follows:

  • The RRCC will help to educate, inform, and update employer members about government contracting compliance and employment-related laws and regulations affecting recruitment and sourcing practices.
  • The RRCC will serve as the primary liaison to educate and communicate DirectEmployers’ member companies’ needs and perspectives to the various regulatory authorities.
  • The RRCC will assist in tracking proposed changes in compliance legislation, and will alert and advise the Board concerning the possible effects of impending changes in government contract compliance laws and employment regulations and the potential impact on DirectEmployers’ member companies to recruit and source effectively.
  • The RRCC will make recommendations to the Board regarding the compliance services and related programs offered by DirectEmployers Association to help us remain on the cutting-edge as the leading provider of said services.
  • The RRCC will research and share information about speaking opportunities at various conferences and events to further educate all employers, regulatory authorities, state workforce agencies, the military and other stakeholders about DirectEmployers’ compliance services and related programs.

Hiring & Retaining Veterans—a Webinar Education Series

The intent of the veteran employment webinar education series, Hiring & Retaining Veterans, developed by Jolene Jefferies, SPHR and VP Strategic Initiatives of DirectEmployers Association, is to offer employers comprehensive training and resources to expedite the learning curve in developing, sharing and implementing best practices and success strategies to attract, select, onboard and retain America's military candidates.

The Hiring & Retaining Veterans series was originally developed for employers so they could develop active, meaningful relationships with local referral sources that allowed regular communication and feedback.  It was quickly determined that it could be utilized by a much broader community.  Employers wanting to engage in a more robust veteran outreach effort were invited to join this series to:

  • Map a strategy to expand your company’s local veteran outreach activities.
  • Learn how to leverage DirectEmployers Association’s military partnerships as your own, at the local level.
  • Receive tips, resources and contact information of various veteran organizations to target and identify local partnership opportunities.
  • Discover ways to document veteran outreach and communications with veteran partners and referral sources.
  • Use analytics to identify specific employment practices that are verifiably effective in the recruitment of veterans.
  • Effectively demonstrate a history of compliant veteran outreach efforts.

Worthwhile to note, there has been a very strong interest in the resources, templates and toolkits provided with the Veteran Outreach webinar.  These resources are estimated to save employers well over 250 hours of research and planning time.

  • Veteran Outreach PowerPoint Slide Deck (includes step-by-step strategic implementation plan)
  • Guide to Key Military Partnerships of DirectEmployers Association
  • Labor Market Assessment Template
  • Veteran Outreach and Partnership Sources for Employers
  • State Veterans Program Coordinators 
  • Marines Wounded Warrior District Injured Support Cell (DISC) Coordinator Roster 
  • Veteran Partner Levels and Definitions 
  • Local Veteran Recruiting Action Plan (RAP) Template

Attendees have included anyone interested in learning how to develop partnerships at the local level and to advance outreach efforts to help employers find, attract, hire and retain more veterans, including employers, recruiters, HR Compliance Experts, Hiring Managers, Human Resource Professionals, Workforce Development Professionals, Economic Developers, Community Representatives and Regulatory Agency Representatives.

An outline of the webinar content is included as Table 1 to this testimony.  DirectEmployers Association intends to continue offering these worthwhile sessions on a regular basis. 

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the employers’ perspective and our activities in this area.  We are dedicated to doing out utmost toward the employment of our nation’s deserving veterans.  We would be glad to provide you with any additional information.  DirectEmployers Association stands ready to work with this Committee on the issues of veterans’ employment. 

Table 1

The Hiring & Retaining Veterans webinar education series is outlined as follows:

Hiring & Retaining Veterans

Webinar Education Series for Employers
Developed and Delivered by:  Jolene Jefferies, SPHR, VP Strategic Initiatives, DirectEmployers Association

The Hiring & Retaining Veterans webinar education series is designed to help employers explore how to create, develop and implement a successful award-winning military recruiting and retention program as part of their company’s overall talent acquisition and employee retention strategy.    The Hiring & Retaining Veterans series, consisting of 16 webinars, saves employers time and provides them with invaluable templates, tools and resources to target veteran and military candidates to the organization and retain them once they’ve been hired.

Strategic Planning, Development and Implementation

1

Making the Case for Hiring Veterans:  A Win-Win Business Strategy

Hiring Veterans

2

Veteran Outreach:  Partnering at the Local Level

3

Hiring Veterans:  Important Laws & Military-Friendly HR Policies

4

Hiring Veterans:  Creating Brand Awareness in the Military Community

5

Hiring Veterans:  Sourcing Strategies to Attract Military Talent - Part I

6

Hiring Veterans:  Sourcing Strategies to Attract Military Talent - Part II

7

Hiring and Accommodating Disabled Veterans:  Strategies for Success

8

Hiring Veterans:  Training Your Recruiters & Hiring Managers

9

Hiring Veterans:  The DD-214 & Background Investigations

10

Hiring Veterans:  Understanding the Military to Improve Employment Practices & Outcomes

11

Hiring Veterans:  Recruitment Compliance Strategies

12

Onboarding New Veteran Employees:  Strategies for Success

13

Hiring Veterans:  Employer Best Practices Showcase

Retaining Veterans

14

Retaining Veterans and Disabled Veterans:  Strategies for Success

15

Retaining Veterans:  Training Your Recruiters, Hiring Managers and Key Leaders

16

Retaining Veterans:  Employer Best Practices Showcase