Witness Testimony of Leslye A. Arsht, U.S. Department of Defense, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Military Community and Family Policy)
Madame Chairwoman and distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the progress made by the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Military Services in providing information and assistance to Service members regarding licensure and credentialing.
We require a great deal from our Armed Forces and I want to affirm the Department's commitment to all of our Service members – Active, National Guard, Reserves, and their families.
Returning to private life after serving in the military is a very complex undertaking. At the point of separating, retiring or being released from active duty as a member of the National Guard or Reserves, the transitory Service member's most immediate goal is finding a job, accessing education to change careers, and ultimately to improve his/her economic quality of life for the long term. DOD believes that none of our efforts are more important than creating an uninterrupted continuum of opportunities at every level, as our Service personnel and their families transition from military service to veteran status.
The Department recognizes that the attainment of a civilian credential not only promotes professional growth, but communicates to employers the transferability of military training and experience. It is important for Service members to be able to capitalize on their military experience in order to reach and achieve their employment potential and aspirations in civilian life.
Great progress has been made in providing transition assistance during the past year. We've succeeded in providing licensing and credentialing information in a range of ways and in different formats in order to appeal to individual learning styles and ensure the widest possible dissemination. The information is provided through classroom delivery from an instructor, by online interaction and through one-on-one coaching so that Service members have the latest and most accurate information about transition assistance benefits available at their fingertips in order to make informed decisions about their future. An integral aspect of licensure and credentialing is that it is introduced to Service members early in their careers not just at the time of separation.
TRANSITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (TAP)
The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) was created to assist Service members once they decide to separate or retire. During TAP, Service members receive information about licensure and certification.
TAP is a collaborative partnership among DOD and the Military Services, the Department of Labor (DOL), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Each agency is responsible for delivering its component of TAP.
Transitioning Service members and demobilizing National Guard and Reserve personnel receive relevant information about licensure and certification through the four components of TAP (Preseparation Counseling, DOL TAP Employment Workshop, VA Benefits Briefing, and the Disabled Transition Assistance Program (DTAP)). National Guard and Reservists receive a Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights (USERRA) briefing in lieu of the Employment Workshop. However, the Department of Labor has reached out to each state’s Adjutant General to provide TAP employment workshops whenever and wherever desired.
During the mandatory pre-separation counseling phase of TAP, Service members learn about licensing, certification, and apprenticeship resources. These include resources such as the DOL "America's Career Info Net" web site, Army and Navy Credentialing Opportunities Online (COOL) web sites, the DOD Verification of Military Experience and Training (VMET) document, the DOD/DOL US Military Apprenticeship Program, the DOL Occupational Information Net (O*NET), DANTES, and TurboTAP. During pre-separation counseling, "Licensure and Certification" is contained in a module on the DD Form 2648 & DD Form 2648-1.
The Military Services also provide one-on-one counseling, coaching, detailed briefings, guidance and other assistance required by the Service member. Various workshops are provided to assist them in writing effective resumes, translating military skills to civilian skills, and skills and self assessments.
The Preseparation counseling session also includes a discussion of the Department of Labor's Web site, "Career One Stop." In this application, Service members link to the Credentials Center, which they can use to locate State-specific occupational licensing requirements, agency contact information and information about industry-recognized certifications. There are also associated workforce education and examinations that test or enhance knowledge, and experience or skills in related civilian occupations and professions. These sites have been developed and improved through close partnerships between DOD and DOL.
DOD also developed a DOD Pre-separation Counselor Training Course in conjunction with the National Learning Center, University of Denver at Colorado. The curriculum provides the minimum standards all counselors must achieve when explaining the licensing and certification module during the preseparation counseling session.
Our newest tool for transitioning Service members is TurboTAP (http://www.TurboTAP.org). The Department launched this new web portal on June 9, 2007. It was developed in collaboration with DOL and VA. Among the many features of the site is a Preseparation Guide for Active Component Service members, a Transition Guide for the Guard and Reserves, and an Employer Hub. Both guides deal with Employment Assistance, and provide a wealth of information on Employment Assistance and Credentialing Programs. They also link directly to Army and Navy COOL, the O*NET, the Occupational Outlook Handbook and many other resources relating to licensure and credentialing. Through the Employment Hub, Service members can access a section entitled “Translating Your Military Skills.” This hub also links to the Military Occupational Classification (MOC) Skills Translator, developed by O*NET to help military personnel translate their military specialties to civilian occupations. It also provides them an occupational profile and they can get detailed employment information about that occupation.
Because we recognize that our young Service members today are very "savvy" when it comes to technology, we have made the site easy to navigate and have deliberately placed access to information in multiple locations through the site. It is all there at their fingertips and accessible 24/7.
TASK FORCE REPORT TO THE PRESIDENT: "RETURNING GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR HEROES"
One of the recommendations in the Task Force Report to the President: "Returning Global War on Terror Heroes," calls for the improvement in civilian workforce credentialing and certification. A special DOD–DOL Credentialing Working Group was established to address the actions required to implement this recommendation. A key tasking is to identify 10 major Military Occupational Specialties (MOSs) that may require minimal additional training or training adjustments to the curriculum of relevant Service Skills Development Schools that could result in certification in correlating civilian occupations. The Working Group is in the process of collecting and collating data on ALL MOSs by Military Service (including the National Guard and Reserves) based on how many people are in each MOS. They will narrow that list down to the top 10 MOSs based on how many people are in each MOS and conduct a cross-walk of those MOSs that correlate with the 10 high growth civilian industries. We expect that the results of that analysis will show the gaps between the MOSs and the credentialing requirements for the top 10 growth industries. The final step in this process will be to identify adjustments within the Service Schools required to support certain credentials. More work remains, but the final results will be a win-win for our Service members and for the nation’s employers.
The Credentialing Working Group is developing appropriate goals, objectives, and outcomes that will help remove credentialing barriers that some veterans and transitioning Service members face today, such as variations in state licensing requirements. The Group is developing recommendations that will help us 1) map career pathways between military occupations and civilian occupational employment, 2) promote uniformity/reciprocity across States with regard to occupational licensing, and 3) promote efforts to maximize the transferability of military education and training for purposes of credit toward licensure and certification requirements.
Now I would like to share with you some of the programs and tools the military Services have in place to assist Service members with licensure and credentialing.
MILITARY SERVICES PROGRAMS AND TOOLS
I think you'll agree that the Services have significantly augmented their focus on licensing and credentialing.
Since April 2002, the Army has embraced licensure and certification as a key means of helping Soldiers apply their military training and work experience to the civilian workforce. They have conducted extensive research to link each of the military occupational specialties (MOS) to civilian jobs and applicable civilian licenses and certifications. The Army found that 95 percent of its enlisted MOSs correlate with applicable civilian credentials; 93 percent of active duty Soldiers serve in these MOSs.
The extent to which Soldiers are able to use their military training and experience to attain civilian licenses and certifications is determined through comprehensive gap analysis comparing MOS training with civilian credentialing requirements. The gap analysis is conducted on credentials determined to be most directly related to the MOS or to the skills attained through MOS training and experience.
In conducting the gap analysis, an attainability rating is assigned to each relevant credential. This rating indicates the estimated ability of a first term Soldier to obtain a given credential. Attainability ratings reflect the likelihood of a Soldier attaining the corresponding credential during his or her first term of service, attaining it in a subsequent enlistment, or encountering difficulty in translating their military training and work experience to a civilian credential.
The results of the research linking MOSs to civilian jobs and credentials, along with the results of the gap analysis, are available to Soldiers through the Army Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL) web site (https:www.cool.army.mil).
This robust site provides Soldiers, counselors, family members, and employers with comprehensive information about certification and licensure relevant to Army MOSs. It helps soldiers find civilian credentialing programs related to their military occupational specialties. It also helps them understand what it takes to obtain a credential and identifies resources that will pay credentialing fees. The web site is designed to specifically aid Soldiers in translating their military training and work experience to the civilian workforce. COOL web site usage has been high. There have been over 4 million users since the site was launched in April 2002. Two-thirds have been MOS-specific. The evidence is clear. Users are particularly interested in finding information specific to their MOS. Additionally, Soldiers can receive one-on-one counseling in licensure and credentialing from education counselors at each installation.
In 2006, the Navy followed the Army lead and created the Navy COOL web site (https://www.cool.navy.mil). Like the Army, Sailors are able to use their military training and experience to attain civilian licenses and certifications by comparing rate training (Navy ratings are the same as MOSs) with civilian credentialing requirements. The Navy also conducted research and gap analyses on those credentials that have been determined to be most related to the skills attained through rating training and experience. It, too, has an attainability indicator for each relevant credential. Navy COOL also provides Sailors, counselors, family members, and employers with comprehensive information and counseling about licensure and certification relevant to Navy ratings.
Air Force emphasis on licensure and certification is linked to degrees conferred to its enlisted force by the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF). CCAF confers associate degrees in each enlisted members career field. The Air Force considers this to be the equivalency to the civilian world's certification. Air Force policy is to fund one license/certificate per Air Force career. Further, all Air Force Specialty Codes translate to comparable civilian work experience.
The Marine Corps uses a variety of resources to assist Service members with licensure and credentialing. These include the Department of Labor’s America's Career InfoNet web site, Army and Navy COOL web sites, the Verification of Military Experience and Training Document (VMET), the US Military Apprenticeship Program, the Occupational Information Network O*NET, the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) and TurboTAP, the newest DOD Transition Assistance Program (TAP) website. Marine Corps Transition Assistance Management Program (TAMP) personnel are Certified Workforce Development Professionals and possess the skills necessary to assist Marines in translating their military experience and training into understandable civilian terminology.
We acknowledge the importance of providing Service members clear and definitive information on licensure and credentials at many points in their military careers. Providing this information early on allows Service members to plan and seek out any needed additional required classes to complete to achieve their personal objective.
Madame Chairwoman, this concludes my statement. On behalf of the men and women in the military today and their families, I thank you and the members of this Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity for your steadfast support during these demanding times.