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Richard A. Hobbie, Executive Director, National Association of State Workforce Agencies

NASWA is pleased to respond to the request for comments by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on the issue of “Putting America’s Veterans Back to Work.”  The members of our Association are state leaders of the publicly-funded workforce development system vital to meeting the employment needs of veterans.  This is accomplished through the Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program and the Local Veterans’ Employment Representatives programs, and other programs and initiatives offered through the broader workforce development system.  Our testimony includes the following points:

  • The workforce development system provides services to all unemployed workers and jobseekers and maintains a substantial focus on serving the needs of veterans. The system, because of limited funding, serves as many individuals as possible by providing tools for customers to help themselves without significant staff assistance.  
  • A vital component of our member’s service to veterans is to ensure a viable labor exchange exists and is readily available to veterans, employers and those who will help them in their efforts.  NASWA does this in partnership with DirectEmployers Association (DE) through the National Labor Exchange (NLX).
  • The NLX is an automated initiative operating on the Internet.  It aims to collect all verifiable job openings in the country and share those job openings at no cost with state workforce agencies and job seekers.  The jobs are verified to help job seekers avoid scams, such as identify theft schemes or false promises of high earnings for working at home.
  •   Providing sufficient services to veterans, while a priority of our system, is a challenge.  Unemployment remains high, and nominal resources available to our members have been reduced recently and in the case of the Employment Service (ES) have been unchanged for almost 30 years.
  • Beyond decreasing real funding as an obstacle in serving veterans, there are many other critical obstacles affecting veterans’ employment opportunities including:  (1) Credentialing -  the inability for veterans to provide formal civilian credentials and certifications, even though they might have received equivalent training while in the military; (2 ) Inability to identify where veterans with certain skills are located -  there is no reliable nationwide information source identifying where employers with specific needs should focus veteran recruitment efforts; (3)  Identifying the right online resource for veterans hiring -  Employers say there is confusion over the proliferation of web sites and services aiming to facilitate veterans’ employment; (4) Translating Military Occupational Classification to civilian jobs - many veterans have difficulty  “translating” military skills and experiences into the civilian world; (5) UI Reemployment and Connectivity -  The advent of remote claims taking technology has enabled states to offer UI claims services either online or via telephone, disrupting the connection of the UI claimant from the workforce system; and, (6) USDOL Regulations -  OFFCP has proposed regulations that will make federal contractors’ connection and recruitment of veterans erode further.

Chairman Miller, Representative Filner and Members of the Committee, on behalf of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA), I thank you for the opportunity to submit written testimony and to appear before you today to discuss the efforts of our members to promote and create jobs for veterans.

The members of our Association are state leaders of the publicly-funded workforce development system vital to meeting the employment needs of veterans.  This is accomplished through the Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program (DVOP) and the Local Veterans’ Employment Representatives (LVER) programs, as well as other programs and initiatives offered through the publicly-funded workforce system.   

NASWA serves as an advocate for state workforce programs and policies, a liaison to federal workforce system partners, and a forum for the exchange of information and practices.  Our organization was founded in 1937.  Since 1973, it has been a private, non-profit corporation, financed primarily by annual dues from member state agencies. 

Helping veterans make a successful transition from their service in the military to successful civilian careers remains a significant challenge.  In March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the jobless rate for veterans of all eras combined was 8.7 percent, compared with 9.4 percent for nonveterans.  However, the unemployment rate for veterans who served in the military at any time since September 2001 — a group referred to as Gulf War-era II veterans — was 11.5 percent in 2010.  Further, about 25 percent of Gulf War-era II veterans reported having a service-connected disability in July 2010, compared with about 13 percent of all veterans.

I would like to emphasize NASWA and our members seek the same outcomes for veterans that the Committee does, to help our service members quickly find meaningful employment opportunities that lead to successful careers when they leave the service of our country. 

A Snapshot of Today’s Workforce Development System

While the workforce development system provides services to all unemployed workers and jobseekers it maintains a substantial focus on serving the needs of veterans.  Today’s workforce system provides customers with assistance either to gain immediate entry to employment or to receive a range of services (including training) for successful entry into jobs and careers.  The Unemployment Insurance (UI) program provides temporary wage replacement for individuals with a civilian or military work history.  The Employment Service (ES) provides labor exchange services and information to help individuals find and compete for jobs, while services provided through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) supports various activities through local One-Stop Career Centers including: 

  1. Core Services.  These services include labor market information, initial assessment of skill levels, and job search and placement assistance.  Most core services can be described as self-services and include: resource rooms, computers, internet access, job listings, resume writing, workshops on interviewing skills, etc.  WIA core services are sometimes called labor exchange services. 
  2. Intensive Services.  These services are for individuals needing more than core services to obtain or keep employment leading to self-sufficiency.  These services are designed to prepare the individual for employment and include: comprehensive and specialized assessments of skill levels; development of individual employment plans; group counseling; individual counseling and career planning; case management; and, short-term prevocational services.
  3. Training Services.  Access to training programs may be available to individuals who have met the eligibility requirements for intensive services but are unable to obtain or retain employment. Through One-Stop Career Centers, individuals are evaluated to determine whether or not they are in need of training and if they possess the skills and qualifications needed to participate successfully in the training program in which they express an interest.  Training services must be directly linked to occupations in demand.

The workforce system is designed to help individuals assess their skills and interests and receive vital information about current labor market demands for new and existing employees.  The system, because of limited funding has focused on serving as many individuals as possible and providing the tools for customers to help themselves as much as possible without significant staff assistance. 

The performance measures metrics for the system reflect this ‘self-help’ approach, and include:  (1) entered employment, (2) employment retention, and (3) average earnings in subsequent employment.  While “job placement” might be a desired activity, the realities of a high volume of customers and limited funding force states to rely substantially on self-help approaches and the myriad of ways workers find jobs on their own besides placement by an employment agency or one-stop career center.    

The organizational structure of the workforce system varies across states.  However, veterans may access all available workforce services under a Priority of Service (POS) mandate set forth by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL).  So, while LVERs and DVOPs deal exclusively with job-seeking veterans, the entire workforce development system is geared to give priority of service to veterans.

While the majority of individuals receiving WIA services receive lower-cost core and intensive services, these services have been found to be beneficial as well as highly cost-effective. For example, it is estimated by Louis Jacobson in a Brookings Institution paper through the Hamilton Project that job search assistance-related services provide $4.5 dollars of benefit for every $1 spent. This type of return on investment, coupled with the dire state of the economy and the need to support returning veterans and other Americans striving to get a foothold in the workplace brings to focus the value of the workforce system’s services

In terms of income support, veterans upon separation from the military are eligible for the Unemployment Compensation Program for Ex-Service Members (UCX) and are expected to be able to work, be available for work and to actively seek work with the help of reemployment services provided through the workforce system.

My testimony will review the activities our members have underway to assist veterans and provide some illustrative information from three states:  Minnesota, Florida and Texas.  You also requested data on eight identified variables concerning veterans.  I will provide some information from our existing reporting systems (Table 1), but some of the data requested are not available.  NASWA will follow-up with your committee to see if there might be other ways to capture the information.

Special Workforce System Efforts to Serve Veterans:  Examples from Three States

Mr. Chairman, first I would like to describe two activities currently underway in my own state of Minnesota.

  1. Our Featured Employer Pipeline/Qualified Applicant List.  Because many Minnesota employers call us looking to hire veterans, we started a pilot project directing job-ready, highly-skilled veterans to jobs in these companies.  Our LVERS and Business Services Representatives have established working relationships with key HR personnel and hiring managers to create a direct “pipeline” of Veteran referrals to actual hiring managers within these “featured employers.”  Short-term results are very positive, and we look forward to continued success.
  2. Our Statewide Veterans “Beyond the Yellow Ribbon” Career Fair.  This event attracts about 1,000 of “Minnesota’s Finest” veterans who are looking for career opportunities and educational options.  Each year 80 to 90 of Minnesota’s best employers register for this event aimed at putting job seeking veterans together with Minnesota business anxious to hire veterans.  May 3, 2011 marked our 5th year for this event, which, according to businesses and veterans alike “just keeps getting better.”

In Florida the State’s Office of Workforce Services has:

  1. Created a Veteran’s Portal which serves as a gateway to information and resource links that assist veterans, their families and employers help veterans achieve their employment goals. The portal has been accessed from virtually every theater of deployment where US veterans are stationed.
  2. Aggressively sought additional resources to assist the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program receiving grants totaling $925,178, to assist Homeless Female Veteran and Veterans with Families grants receiving grants totaling $437,974: and
  3. At the Regional workforce level has instituted a number of focused activities including:
  • Providing direct employment services to local veterans;
  • Working closely with the local Chambers of Commerce;
  • Establishing direct contact with local employers;
  • Working with related federal programs administered by the Agency for Workforce Innovation (AWI), such as the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) and Federal Bonding program; and
  • Conducting a series of local Job fairs for veterans.

In Texas, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has:

  1. Created special features to serve veterans on its free public labor exchange system,, including:
  • Flags to identify Veterans to employers and staff;
  • A two-day hold on all newly created job postings, to ensure veterans get first review;
  • Ability for employers to designate job postings as “Veteran Applicants Only”;
  • Numerous job search options for veterans, including viewing ”Veteran Applicant Only” and Federal Contractor job postings; and
  • ·Notification of Priority of Service (and identification) to all veterans upon entry into the system and at certain subsequent reentry points.
  1. The TWC also is developing a statewide comprehensive veteran’s initiative (College Credit for Heroes) to maximize the military experience of veterans for college credit and employment.  Last April, the Commission agreed to move forward on this $3 million statewide initiative that will award veterans college credit through testing and evaluation of prior learning.  In addition, TWC will create a partnership between the state’s community colleges and the Military Education Training Center (METC) in San Antonio to provide current active duty service members with an accelerated degree plan to attain a associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in conjunction with military training. 

The National Labor Exchange


A vital component of the process to help our service members find meaningful employment opportunities when they leave the service of our country is to ensure a viable labor exchange exists and is readily available to veterans and those who will help them in their quest.  To this end, NASWA in partnership with DirectEmployers Association (DE) has created a National Labor Exchange (NLX).

The NLX allows NASWA and its state and business partners to have a direct involvement in making job connections for our nation’s veterans.   Beginning in 2007, NASWA began offering the NLX to its state workforce agency members as a free electronic labor exchange service.  The NLX is an automated initiative aiming to collect all verifiable job openings in the country and share those job openings with state workforce agencies and, ultimately, jobseekers. 

The NLX differs from other major internet job aggregators in that:  (1) job postings are unduplicated and current, helping jobseekers connect to real openings, (2) employers are verified to avoid risky scams, such as identify theft or false promises of high earnings working from home; and (3) it is a unique public-private initiative offered at no cost to the federal government, to state workforce agencies, and to their employer and jobseeker customers.

NLX’s technical operations are led by DirectEmployers Association (DE).  DE is a trade association of over 660 Fortune 1000 companies represented by their human resource directors.  DE’s mission is to provide a cost-effective national employment system that improves labor market efficiency and reflects our nation’s diverse workforce. Since 2000, its flagship service has been running a sophisticated job search and “spidering” engine that captures employer job openings and provides the content to many websites and aggregators.    

In March 2007, NASWA endorsed JobCentral as the successor to America’s Job Bank (AJB) that was funded by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL).  AJB was a national public job-bank defunded and shut-down by the USDOL in June 2007.  After an intensive evaluation process, NASWA and its members endorsed JobCentral as the means to create the NLX.    

Status and Benefits

Since March 2007, the NLX has collected delivered over 9 million unique and verified job postings to state workforce agency staff and customers.  Of the 9 million job postings, over 4 million came from federal contractors – a group of employers that has special obligations to demonstrate it is recruiting and hiring veterans. Also, since 2007, over 150,000 employers of all sizes have used this system, entering the system either through the national site ( or via state job banks.  Today, 49 state workforce agencies, plus the District of Columbia, have signed participation agreements, sharing their own job posting content and transforming JobCentral into the NLX.  Talks are underway with the remaining state and one territory to join the alliance. 

The NLX has allowed participating state job-banks to receive thousands of job postings via electronic download from:  (1) employers typically not listing with the public workforce system, (2) the U.S. government (, and (3) from neighboring state workforce agencies.  NLX job postings are updated daily, avoiding duplication and ensuring real job opportunities are made available, conditions key to offering jobseekers a better experience and making real job connections. 

In addition, the NLX has allowed state workforce agencies to transmit job postings -- and links to other valuable services -- to government sites such as the Employer Partnership of the Armed Forces involving all branches of the Reserves and the National Guard (, the Veterans Administration’s (VA) site (targeting disabled veterans), and USDOL’s site. 

The NLX also provides state workforce agencies and employers access to an online free tool called “Analytics.”  This allows workforce agencies and employers to view traffic information about jobseekers’ click-throughs from state job banks to employers’ corporate job application systems.  Since the rollout of Analytics, state job banks have consistently ranked among the top ten sites providing employers with traffic to their corporate job application systems.  In addition, the analytics platform demonstrates the types of jobs of interest to jobseekers within specific geographic areas.  This information, in combination with the list of NLX jobs existing within an area, can be powerful in determining future labor demand, available supply, and needed training programs, all of which help states offer better services to veterans and all citizens.

Creating and Leveraging a Compliance Service for Employers

The NLX offers a compliance mechanism for federal contractors called VetCentral.  The VetCentral service was designed to provide DE members compliance with the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) as amended by the Jobs for Veterans Act (JVA).  Beyond simply meeting the letter of the law, VetCentral strives to meet the spirit of the law, by bringing job openings directly to the hands of the state staff working with veterans.   

Per current regulations, VetCentral sends daily emails of Federal Contractor Job Listing (FCJL) jobs to the “appropriate local employment service delivery system.”  The emails are directed to LVERs and DVOPs along with other staff as designated by the state workforce agencies.  The user-friendly emails contain links to the FCJL job postings and a “how to apply” link.  The NLX has received positive responses from field staff who use these emails every day in referring veterans.  While state workforce agencies designate who receives emails, there is also a process to review and correct current email addresses used by VetCentral.  All FCJL jobs, sent via email to produce a tangible audit trail, are also available for direct download into states’ job banks through the broader NLX initiative.

We believe current regulations published in Federal Register 41 CFR Part 60–300 have been vital in encouraging the creation of the NLX.  While they have prompted the creation of a VetCentral process that delivers FCJL job postings, they also have created the opportunity for the NLX to flourish, bringing in a large number of other job opportunities to state job banks.  Since the workforce development system offers many core self-services via priority of service to veterans, enhanced job bank content helps benefit veterans’ employment.   

Expanding NLX Jobs Content

This year, in an effort to increase the number of  verified and unduplicated job postings, NLX partners are focusing on expanding the use of the NLX’s free indexing (an automated, daily service that “scrapes” job postings from individual employer websites and other resources). State workforce agency staff is invited to make connections with employers who currently do not list with the public workforce system and offer to collect job openings residing on corporate websites through an indexing process.  The NLX would then function as the free technology collecting job postings from such corporate websites via indexing and adding them to this national job exchange system

The successful continued operation of the NLX and improvements discussed above are extremely valuable in helping veterans navigate a diverse, complex labor market.  NASWA asks for your support in raising awareness of this effort, which will increase the number of job postings and expand employers’ awareness of the services available through the workforce development system.  


Providing sufficient services to veterans is a priority of our workforce system, yet presents several challenges.  Unemployment remains high, the ratio of job seekers to available jobs is still much higher than we would like (reported in February of this year as 5.9 seekers for every job vacancy compared to a ratio of 1.7 in December 2007) and the skills required for the jobs that are available are different than those required even a few years ago.  Nominal resources available to our members have been reduced recently, and in the case of the ES have been unchanged for almost 30 years.   

Beyond the system’s concerns with ever decreasing real funding as an obstacle in serving veterans, there are many other critical areas affecting veterans’ employment rates:

  1. Credentialing.  Through our NLX employer partners we learned one of the most critical obstacles to the employment of veterans is the inability to secure formal credentials and certifications, even though they have received equivalent training while in the military.  Veterans must spend resources including valuable time to acquire formal civilian credentials when many already possess the skills. 
  2. Inability to identify where veterans with certain skills are located.  Again through our NLX employer partners we learned there is no reliable nationwide information source identifying where employers with specific needs should be focusing their veteran recruitment efforts.  The workforce system also has minimal access to this type of information. 
  3. Identifying the right online resources for veterans hiring:  Employers have indicated there are many sites and services aiming to facilitate veterans’ employment. Employers must dedicate resources and staff to wade through a great amount of well-meaning sites to identify qualified veteran talent.  While this is a real concern, how today’s jobseekers and younger veterans search for jobs will continue to be multi-faceted, from personal contacts to exploring and applying on many online sites. 

One solution is to create “super” employment portals seeking to channel jobseekers and veterans’ behavior, and influence employers’ recruitment strategies.  However, this often results in websites with frustrating multiple links to other sites, duplicate jobs, closed jobs, and difficult navigation in finding pertinent information (such as assessments, where to go for in-person help, etc.).  We believe jobseekers and employers will continue to use multiple approaches in searching for jobs and the fluid nature of the online world will continue to be a reality.  Our focus, as a public workforce system, is to continue nurturing the NLX as the resource providing verified job postings to relevant outlets involved in connecting job-seeking veterans with either the state workforce agency or the recruiting employer.

  1. Inability to translate Military Occupational Classification (MOC) to civilian jobs:  A common issue identified by employers is veterans’ inability to “translate” their skills and experiences into the civilian world.  An MOC crosswalk to the Occupational Network (O*NET, the officially accepted “language” used to describe occupational skills) has been completed by USDOL and can be used quite successfully.  Unfortunately, spreading the word of its existence and increasing its use are dependent on limited funding and an overburdened workforce development system staff.  NASWA’s NLX partner, DirectEmployers Association, has used this crosswalk, building the ability for veterans to enter MOCs online and receive back NLX jobs relevant to the entered MOC.   
  2.  UI Reemployment and Connectivity:  The recent recession has brought a renewed focus on connecting UI claimants with reemployment services.  As I noted earlier, veterans upon separation from the military are eligible for the Unemployment Compensation Program for Ex-Service Members (UCX).  The advent of remote claims-taking technology has enabled states to take UI claims online or via telephone.  This has disrupted the connection of veterans and other UI claimants to workforce system services to differing degrees in the states. 

NASWA through its Information Technology Support Center (ITSC) has undertaken a project to support states in developing new strategies to connect unemployment insurance claimants to the workforce system.  In partnership with USDOL, ITSC has developed a national vision and implementation plan for better connecting unemployment insurance claimants to the workforce system both electronically and in person.  Currently we are working on the development of systems to implement the plan which include integrated UI-workforce customer registration, transferability of skills analysis, and use of social networking. 

  1. Obstacles Created by USDOL Regulations: Recently the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program (OFCCP), USDOL, has released a Notice for Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to govern the procedures federal contractors must follow to demonstrate their efforts to recruit and hire qualified veterans.  While OFCCP said it consulted with state officials, the proposed regulations appear to have been developed without formal input from state workforce agencies’ leadership.    

As a result, the proposed regulations make certain assumptions about the nature of the workforce development system activities which are inaccurate.  For example, the proposed regulations assume the bulk of workforce system dollars are focused on out-dated referral or placement processes and reinterpret the system’s mandate for “priority of service” to veterans as “priority referrals.”  The reality is, declining funding and increasing demand, and a requirement to be a universal system, has led most state activities to focus on the provision of core self-services, not referrals or placements.  While states continue to provide intensive and training services, the extent to which these can be provided has been curtailed substantially. 

Based on this unrealistic framework, OFCCP’s new reporting requirements for federal contractors asks employers to document job referrals of veterans that are received from state workforce agencies (outside the LVER and DVOP programs).  The proposed regulations ask federal contractors for a five-year collection of data on direct “referrals” received from state workforce agencies (this does not include veterans applying for jobs on their own that they saw posted on the state job bank), applicant status (veteran and disability, and hires from “referrals” received from state workforce agencies. 

By programmatic design and fiscal necessity, the workforce system functions as a provider of information and tools for jobseekers and employers.  Focusing on “referrals” is an out-dated approach in a system expected to meet entered employment, employment retention, and wage level goals. Some LVERs and DVOPs might still work on a limited number of referrals.  However, the ES and WIA workforce development programs have the same three performance measures toward which ETA and VETS expects states to work.  In fact, the notion of “referrals” has been abandoned by USDOL and the states consciously as it reflects an increasingly out-dated way of thinking about how jobseekers search for and find jobs. 

While federal contractors will comment on the virtue and burden of those new requirements to the employer community and the resulting further obstacles in hiring veterans, NASWA also is concerned about the unfunded reporting burden these regulations will create for states workforce agencies, who will be asked to confirm information employers offer during OFCCP audits, further splintering dollars and resources meant to serve veterans. 

Finally, there is a concern the proposed regulations will have the unintended effect of decreasing the number of job openings currently found within state job banks.  This stems from language in the NPRM eliminating the ability of federal contractors to list simultaneously within multiple state job banks.  Instead, the NPRM appears to require federal contractors to provide jobs to states by manually posting them within each state job bank for the purposes of tracking limited referrals.  This is an excessive burden on employers.  It will lead to some employers posting jobs in fewer states.  State workforce agencies who receive thousands of job listings on a daily basis via direct downloads will ultimately see their offerings to veterans reduced.

NASWA and its members remain dedicated to improving the efficiency of the labor market and its labor exchange function, and improving the employment opportunities of our nation’s veterans.  We are willing to assist the Committee and the U.S. Department of Labor in any way possible.

Thank you for the opportunity to address these important issues.


Level of education of Veterans

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, annual averages 2009, at:

Educational Attainment by Veteran Status
Percent distribution

Veteran status

Less than a high school diploma

High school graduate, no college

Some college or associate degree

College graduate











Gulf War-era II veterans





Gulf War-era I veterans





WWII, Korean War and Vietnam-era veterans





Length of Unemployment after leaving Service

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1998-2008 at:

Labor Market Activity of Young Veterans
Percent of veterans ages 18 to 24 in 1998-2008

Number of months since separation from the Armed Forces



Not in the labor force

































































































Age of Veterans Served by the Workforce Investment System  

Source: DOL Employment and Training: PY 2009WIASRD Data Book

Age of veterans served in WIA
Age at Participation
(# in 000’s)


18 to 21

22 to 29

30 – 44

45 – 54

55 +













Campaign Vet






Recently separated veteran






Other eligible person






Entered Employment Rate and Salary:  3rd Quarter after exit.

Source: DOL Employment and Training: PY 2009WIASRD Data Book

Veterans Programs

Exiters from Oct 2008 to Sept 2009

Exiters from April 2008 to March 2009

Number of Exiters

Employment Rate (%)

Credential Attainment Rate (%)

Number of Exiters

Retention 2nd and 3rd Quarters (%)

Average Earnings ($)