The coronavirus pandemic has tested manufacturers’ resilience in unprecedented ways, straining supply networks, shuttering factories, and pushing some industry sectors to the brink. Now more than ever, the times call for an agile, adaptable, and responsive workforce.

Manufacturers are continuing to hire during the outbreak, albeit often with modified practices such as virtual interviews and delayed onboarding. Some are responding to an uptick in demand or adjustments to production, while others are positioning themselves for the eventual upswing. In either case, manufacturing’s chronic shortage of skilled talent adds another layer of challenge to the process.

One source of skilled talent with technical know-how is the military veteran community. Veterans are motivated, able to respond to change and trained to stay calm under pressure. They have often been given technical training during their military career, and many are willing to relocate for good job opportunities as they transition to civilian life.

The Manufacturing Institute created the Heroes MAKE America program to provide skills training to veterans to prepare them for careers in manufacturing and then connect that talent with hiring managers at manufacturers nationwide. In addition to instruction, veteran participants also have engagement opportunities at manufacturing facilities to meet with other veteran employees, hiring managers, and plant leadership.

In the era of COVID-19 restrictions, those engagement opportunities have moved online to a program called Heroes Connect. This means that manufacturers anywhere are now able to connect with veterans who are ready to be hired. Heroes MAKE America currently operates at five military installations and has placed program graduates in 37 states and three countries.

The resilience exhibited by our nation’s military veterans makes them an ideal fit for moving to the front lines of manufacturing. In this critical time for our industry, our economy, and our nation, it is more vital than ever to build a connection to this important group.

If you’d like to know more about how your company can participate in Heroes MAKE America and build its outreach to the veteran community, contact Babs Chase at bchase@nam.org.