TWIN FALLS — As the state and region turn their attention to talent recruitment, Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization is exploring ways to attract veterans.
The organization has received a $5,000 grant from Idaho National Laboratory that will help it reach out to service members and employers to transition veterans into vacant positions across the region. SIEDO is partnering with INL, the Idaho Department of Labor, the Idaho Division of Veteran Services and regional employers.
With the funds, these partners will attend job fairs and host trainings for veterans and businesses.
“The Southern Idaho region has experienced tremendous growth in recent years and this success has resulted in a record low unemployment rate,” SIEDO Executive Director Connie Stopher said in a statement. “We’re hoping to work with both employers and veterans to fill these highly skilled jobs with highly skilled people.”
According to the Idaho Department of Labor, 10 percent of adults in Idaho are veterans of the armed forces. This population typically has a higher rate of unemployment than the overall population, Regional Economist Jan Roeser said.
The American Community Survey from the U.S. Census estimates that on average, 5 percent of the veteran labor force in south-central Idaho was unemployed between 2012 and 2016. The veteran age group with the highest unemployment rate was those ages 18-34 — where 10.2 percent were unemployed.
That rate has been going down, Disabled Veterans Outreach Program Specialist Johnny Moreno said.
“There are several employers in the area that desire to hire veterans,” he said.
And it isn’t just for the tax benefits — or the fact a veteran’s GI bill can help pay for training. Veterans excel at the soft skills employers are looking for, Stopher said — things such as work ethic and being on time. They also often speak a second language and are trained in management and leadership, Moreno said.
“The employer is going to get a veteran with a lot of additional skills,” he said.
To attract veterans, SIEDO representatives have been doing presentations at the Mountain Home Air Force Base and Hill Air Force Base, Stopher said. The training includes tips for applications, resumes and job interviews — and raises awareness about employers and job openings in the Magic Valley.
“We really needed to do some outreach and education for employers, too,” Stopher said.
A “Hiring Our Heroes” training takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the College of Southern Idaho. It’ll be presented in partnership with the Idaho Department of Labor, the Idaho Division of Veteran Services and the Airman & Family Readiness Center at Mountain Home Air Force Base. Employers can register for the event by emailing email@example.com.
SIEDO will continue attending recruitment events across the region. In January, SIEDO and McCain Foods attended an event in Seattle, where the company was able to find candidates to interview, Stopher said.
“McCain Foods has been the company we’ve been working with most closely on the veteran recruitment,” Stopher said.
Moreno said other large employers such as Chobani, Lamb Weston, Clif Bar, Idaho Milk Products and Glanbia are always looking for veterans that will bring additional skills to their companies.
Sen. Mike Crapo’s office has been instrumental in connecting SIEDO with experts, Stopher said.
“Veterans have served our nation honorably and gained valuable skills that are needed in a rapidly growing Idaho workforce,” Crapo said in a statement. “… I’m proud to help facilitate this effort, working with employers, schools, and community support networks to provide our veterans with the framework they need to succeed as they transition from the military to new employment and educational opportunities.”