May 23

How can an employer qualify for the DoD SkillBridge Program?

Jessica Evans

When the early days of an ETS begin, there’s a lot to do. In addition to Transition Programs at your installation, you’re probably taking a look at your military resume and wondering how you’ll ever translate the skills you learned in the service into something for the civilian sector. One thing employers look for is experience – either through conventional employment, internships, or apprenticeships. But if you’ve just spent the last several years in uniform, your resume is lacking these things. To help offset some of the difficulties and to help bridge the gap between boots and dress shoes, the DoD recently launched the SkillBridge Program.

Every year, about 200,000 service members separate from their active duty status and re-enter the civilian workforce. The last year is often filled with planning and preparation on how to make the most of the time spent in the military and exploring options on what to do for work once contracts are concluded. The SkillBridge program is exactly as it sounds – a way to bridge the skills a service member has developed during their time in service into a civilian sector employment opportunity.

This gives transitioning service members a chance to work within a specific job and determine if that job matches their passion, interest, and skills. The program is a free opportunity for service members to gain credible civilian work experience during the last six months of their service contract. During that time, service members complete as much of their transition program as possible to ensure they’re well informed of all post-Service options. The unit commander is ultimately responsible for providing approval for the SkillBridge program.

Veterans and military spouses are also eligible to apply for the program. However, the DoD doesn’t pay or provide benefits, while veterans and mil spouses are enrolled in the program. The program is available to members of the Reserve and National Guard.

How is this possible?

Service members receive their military compensation and benefits for the duration of the program. In turn, employers can train one of the most motivated employment groups in the world.

How can an employer qualify to participate?

Employers have the freedom to craft their SkillBridge programs to meet the specific requirements of their industry. That means meeting specific workforce needs helps match motivated service members with careers that are likely to be fulfilling, enriching, and specific to their already established skillset. Employers can qualify for the DoD program by completing the following steps. Qualification for each employer is based on current DoD guidance and is specific to each region.

Interested employers should first review the Employer FAQ and then use the Contact Us page to get more information. A DoD member will contact the employer to provide further details. From there, the employer can learn about industry partner advertising requirements as well as documentation rules that authorize a service member’s enrollment prior to an ETS. SkillBridge locations are all across the country. Some locations offer multiple programs, and some offer only single programs. Refer to this listing for an overview of current opportunities.

The SkillBridge Program is an exciting initiative from the DoD that recognizes American military members are highly trained and exceptional potential employees. By partnering with exclusive organizations, this program is just one way the DoD is providing resources for the transition from military service. Visit this SkillBridge Resource page for more information.