Joint Hearing of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the U.S. Senate and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives at 1:00 p.m. CDT.
Witness Testimony of Mr. Tyrone Everett, East Coast & Mid/Southwest Regional Director, Center for Employment Training (CET)
Good afternoon, thank you for inviting me today. My name is Tyrone Everett, I am the East Coast, Mid and Southwest Regional Director of Center for Employment Training, also known as CET. We are a 501(C)(3), not-for-profit organization that has been providing skill training and human development services to very poor and hard-to-serve individuals since 1967. In our history CET has trained and place over 135,000 men and women including veterans in marketable, living wage jobs. The primary purpose of our organization is to train people for full time jobs and get them into the workforce. Our experience over 47 years is that most people would prefer to be independent, and have control of their own lives!
CET is training more and more job seekers in green energy sector skills. Our decision making about what occupational courses to offer is unique because it is largely governed by partnerships with private industry and the market sector. Each CET training center has an employer based-Technical Advisory Committee that provides guidance and leadership in which skills are in demand in the local or regional area. They advise us on what are the most current and cutting edge applications and equipment used in a skill sector. This way we are always able to remain flexible and move when new opportunities comes up to train in a growing occupational sector. All of our industry advisors say the same thing:
The green energy sector is only going to get bigger and will soon spread to more diverse markets.
Currently, about seven percent of our trainees are veterans, and increasingly we are seeing more and more vets coming through our doors. We are approved by the VA to serve veterans in all of our 15 centers in five states and ready to train more of them. In some ways, veterans are the easiest students to train because they have higher levels of education than most individuals seeking vocational skill training, they are also disciplined and motivated. But, they can also be the most challenging to train, because frequently, veterans that have served in combat, particularly recently discharged veterans, have needs that are unique to their experience in the service to their country!
I’d like to tell you that providing quality training in new and growing demand skills, such as green construction, or green heating and cooling technology is enough to successfully transition veterans from military service to the civilian workforce. Yet more is required to equip veterans with the skills and tools to obtain and retain meaningful employment. The other component that is necessary for success is applied resources- specifically immediate intensive supportive services that can address the pressure that readjustment to civilian society can bring. CET takes this head on in our training model and offers a full menu of supportive services that help to keep our veterans in training and overcome roadblocks to achieving their career goals.
Our approach in green technologies training for veterans uses a hands-on "contextual model" that provides skill training in a simulated workplace environment. Students clock in and out just like they might at work and from the very beginning, they get their “hands on the machine” and learn in large part by doing.
We `provide the most up to date, technologically current training. Being on top of the newest technological trends helps to advance veteran’s career prospects in green technology occupations. Part of that effort, and this is a KEY component, is that in addition to offering relevant job training, we assist our veterans to earn industry-specific credentials and certifications. In this way, when our job development staffs start the process of helping our veterans to obtain employment, the student is already ahead of the game because he or she has industry-specific certifications that make them much more employable. This is the new trend and a vital component of successfully obtaining employment.
In closing, I want to get back to what I stated previously about the importance of applied immediate supportive services to keep the veteran in training. An intensive case management approach to remove potential barriers to success is very important. The best training in the world in the hottest occupation or industry sector is of no use to a discouraged veteran that drops out of training because of a lack of immediate support and resources.
To this end, we have one recommendation! That the VA to help veterans access the education and housing benefits that they are entitled to as quickly and efficiently as possible. The first 90 days after a veteran is discharged is a fragile period that demands that all of us respond with the utmost urgency. In the military, especially when in combat, immediacy is the order of the day. To do otherwise could be a disaster. Discharged veterans feel the need for a similar immediacy as they transition to civilian life. We are confident that if veterans can access their benefits in a more timely manner, we can train then in the new technologies in the green energy sector. We will offer them first class training and intensive support services and then send them into the private sector with industry-specific certifications, and they will succeed and thrive!
We must all give them our best efforts and have the same sense of commitment and dedication that they had when they served all of us and our country. We owe them that much.
Thank you very much for taking my testimony and for your time today.