Nick Hanson is a lot of things; he’s a coach, a volunteer, a Native Alaskan, and a Ninja Warrior. He’s also an internet advocate. Hailing from Unalakleet, an extremely small town in Western Alaska…
As we near the Veterans Day holiday, cable companies nationwide have made a point to celebrate the achievements of veterans and to highlight programs that help them transition to civilian life. At a special event hosted by Charter this week, members of Congress and the cable community discussed solutions and shared examples about how private companies can integrate veterans and their families into the workforce, utilize the tremendous talent and skills that they bring from their years of service, and close the gap between them and civilians.
Charter is a great example of a company that has made it a priority to not only recruit veterans into the workforce, but to find meaningful work for them. The company employs nearly 11,900 veterans--13 percent of its total employee base, which is nearly double the government guideline of 7 percent for veteran hiring. Jennifer Tracy, senior director of talent acquisition and diversity, said the recent integration of Charter, Time Warner Cable and Bright House has been especially beneficial because they have been able to put into place the best practices around veterans initiatives from all three companies.
One of the best practices that Time Warner Cable brought to the table was its Broadband Technician Apprenticeship Program, which is certified by the U.S. Department of Labor and provides newly hired broadband installer technicians the opportunity to receive apprenticeship certification. Enrollees go through thousands of hours of on-the-job training and extensive classroom instruction over four years. In particular, this program helps veterans to launch a second career at Charter while building on the technical skills they gained in the military. "If you are a person leaving the military and are eligible for the GI Bill, they could get their paycheck from Charter and also get their GI benefits, because it's a certified program," said Tracy, pointing out how these kinds of programs help veterans become that much more successful, climb the career ladder quicker and endure less financial hardships.
It works out for Charter too, as the organization gains valuable employees. The company boasts many examples of veterans who have gone on to lead, from one who participated in the Broadband Technician Apprenticeship Program and since has been promoted to Charter's highest level of residential field technician, to another who was promoted five times from an installation technician to field technician supervisor in one of the regional offices.
A newer program is Charter's relationship with Fort Bragg through its Career Resource Center, which is meant to feed into the Broadband Technician Apprenticeship Program. The Career Resource Center is aimed at military who are identified as in the process of transitioning, allowing them to start Charter's training program before they separate from the military.
Charter's outreach to veterans actually starts before they even go into active duty. In one partnership that the company actively participates in, people who have signed up for the military identify companies they want to interview upon separation at the end of their duty. Charter will then interview those people who identified the organization as one they might want to work for when they transition. Charter also belongs to organizations that prioritize taking care of the entire military family and not just the person in active duty.
Tracy emphasized the win-win that both parties get out of all of these efforts. "If you look at the jobs that we have, they align very closely with what the military needs to do in the first place. There are lots of different roles within our organizations that would translate well. Also the values of those who have been in the military translate well into the cable companies."
But Tracy pointed out that it even goes beyond doing the right thing. "If you don't have a strong talent pipeline or relationships set up, you won't have the right people to do the jobs that you need done. That's a problem."
Along with Charter, cable companies have a lot to offer and gain from veterans in the workforce who have a wide set of desirable skills and work ethic. Mission Media is cable's effort to promote an attractive and dynamic industry with a large diversity of jobs, and the initiative is one that aims to share best practices like those that Charter has implemented.
Charter recently participated in the HISTORY Channel's Take a Vet to School Day, and at an event in Florida, Tracy shared that four of the company's employees were featured. "What I found fascinating was we had one gentleman who had worked for us for 21 years, another had been with us for 10, one for 1.5 years, and the fourth for six months. I think that span demonstrates that we have veterans at all points in the continuum. And that's exactly what we would want."