Thursday, August 23, 2012
White House Summarizes Veteran Initiatives Progress,
TAP Gets an Overhaul,
Congratulations to this Month's Winner,
Tips for Staying Positive at Work,
Drought to Affect Food Prices,
Connect with Orion
Orion Alumnus Paul Andrews speaks at Joining Forces event with First Lady Michelle Obama
On August 22, 2012, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at Naval Station Mayport, FL regarding the Joining Forces initiative that has challenged America’s private sector to hire 100,000 military members and their spouses by the end of 2013. Led by the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden, Michelle Obama highlighted the successes of the program thus far, including 2,000 companies who have already exceeded the initiative’s goal, hiring over 125,000 military members and their spouses, and who have pledged to train and employ 250,000 more.
Introducing Michelle Obama was Orion International Alumnus and prior Naval Sonar Technician Paul Andrews, who was placed by Orion in April 2012. He expressed his praise for Orion’s efforts to effectively coach and train him on how to communicate with private sector companies, and assured him that civilian companies do value military skills. Andrews credited Orion International for helping him find “meaningful employment” after the military.
Paul Andrews' and Michelle Obama’s speeches can be viewed below:
For more information about Joining Forces and Orion International’s involvement, please click here.
White House Summarizes Veteran Initiatives Progress
A recently released White House fact sheet lays out President Obama’s support of veteran employment and the progress that has been made so far. Below is a list of the White House initiatives and legislation in support of hiring veterans with status updates.
Veterans Employment Initiative: Executive Order 13518 ordered the Federal government to bolster recruitment and retention of veterans in the federal workforce. The fact sheet explains that there have been 200,000 new veteran hires and at least 25,000 new Reservists to the federal workforce. Veterans now comprise more than one-fourth (27.3% in FY2011) of the federal workforce, the highest share in 15 years.
Enforcing USERRA: President Obama has articulated a zero-tolerance policy for USERRA violations across the federal government and calls on federal agencies to do the following to increase compliance.
Identify Best Practices
Improve Information about those Serving in the Federal Workforce
Better Information and Services for those who Serve
New Tax Credits: In November 2011, President Obama signed the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors tax credits. Expiring at the end of the year, the President has called for Congress to extend the credits.
Joining Forces: President Obama challenged the private sector to hire or train 100,000 veterans and their spouses by 2013. A year later, more than 90,000 veterans and their spouses have already been hired and 2,100 companies have committed to hire or train 175,000 veterans and their spouses by the end of 2013.
Veteran Gold Card: This downloadable card entitles veterans to enhanced reemployment services including six months of personalized case management, assessments and counseling at their local one-stop career center.
Veterans Job Bank and My Next Move: The Administration launched the Veterans Job Bank, an easy-to-use tool to help veterans find job postings from companies looking to hire them. With more than one million postings already, this site continues to grow. My Next Move for Veterans, launched by the Department of Labor, is a new online resource that allows veterans to enter their military occupation code and discover civilian occupations for which they are qualified.
Healthcare Careers for Veterans: President Obama challenged Community Health Centers to hire 8,000 veterans over the next three years and the Health Resources and Services Administration pledged to open up career paths and expand opportunities for veterans to become physician assistants.
Military Credentialing and Licensing Task Force: This task force will identify opportunities where service members can earn civilian occupational credentials and licenses without the need for additional training and is related to the Veteran Skills to Job Act. The Task Force’s first task enabled up to 126,000 service members to gain industry-recognized, nationally-portable certifications for high-demand manufacturing jobs.
Read the fact sheet here.
TAP Gets an Overhaul
In addition to summarizing the Administration’s efforts on behalf of veteran employment last month, the White House also released a fact sheet detailing the redesigned Transition Assistance Program. The Transition GPS, developed by the Veterans Employment Initiative Task Force, will be implemented by the end of 2013 and will do the following:
- Extend the transition program period from 3 days to 5-7 days.
Strengthen, standardize, and expand counseling and guidance for service members before leaving the military.
Transform the military’s approach to education, training, and credentialing for service members.
Specifically, Transition GPS will include the following:
Pre-Separation Assessment and Individual Counseling: Separating service members will have individual counseling to discuss their career goals and start their transition process. Subsequently, members will have a needs and goals assessment coupled with a counseling session about benefits, resources, and available assistance across a wide scope of military separation topics. Each service member will develop an Individual Transition Plan that documents his or her personal transition, as well as the deliverables he or she must attain to meet the new transition program’s Career Readiness Standards.
5-Day Core Curriculum: This curriculum will include a financial planning seminar, a workshop offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs on available veterans’ benefits and services, and a re-designed employment workshop offered by the Department of Labor. Transitioning service members will also undertake a Military Occupational Code Crosswalk to translate their military skills, training, and experience into civilian occupations, credentials, and employment. An Individual Transition Plan session will allow Members to seek guidance from subject matter experts, identify career goals, and develop a roadmap for their transition.
Career-Specific Additional Curriculum: Transitioning service members will also have the option of participating in a series of two day tailored tracks within the Transition GPS curriculum: (1) an Education track, for those pursuing a higher education degree; (2) a Technical and Skills Training track, for those seeking job-ready skills and industry-recognized credentials in shorter-term training programs; and (3) an Entrepreneurship track, for those wanting to start a business.
CAPSTONE Event: A CAPSTONE event will verify that transitioning service members completed the Transition GPS curriculum and achieved Career Readiness Standards. Service members who require additional assistance will be referred to supplemental training opportunities. In addition, through the CAPSTONE event, all service members will be offered a ‘warm handover’ to appropriate government agencies and organizations that will be able to provide them continued benefits, services, and support as veterans.
Military Life Cycle Transition Model: Under this new model, career readiness and transition preparation will be incorporated earlier into a service member’s career to ensure that the counseling, assessments, and access to resources to build skills or credentials occur at earlier stages of a service member’s military tenure.
Click here to read more.
Congratulations to this Month's Winner
Tips for Staying Positive at Work
Whether you hate your boss, can’t take the office gossip, or you find your office-mate’s voice intolerable, staying positive at work can seem like an unachievable reality. Most US workers spend at least one third of their lifetime at work, so learning tips for coping with negative work situations and environments can hopefully make that time more tolerable.
The biggest tip actually has nothing to do with working itself. Experts recommend having a life outside of work. This includes different hobbies, interest groups, and extracurricular activities that don’t include co-workers. Having varied interests gives employees an outlet and allows them to have a life that is separate from work.
Another mission critical tip is to remember to be generous and kind to others. If life is all about negativity, there is no room for the positive. It also makes co-workers more receptive to any constructive criticism that may come from you in the future.
Tip number three involves refusing to brood. Don’t allow yourself to be pulled down by negative comments and behaviors at work, and make sure you leave the office mentally each night. Allow yourself time at home without work distractions. Spend time with family, watch comedy TV, and exercise to let out any frustration.
Finally, reach out to others. Find out if other co-workers feel the same way you do. Social support is extremely important in all facets of life. Ensuring a group mentality and knowing that others are frustrated too can help you feel less isolated and determine if you are over-reacting or being too sensitive.
Drought to Affect Food Prices
The United States is battling one of the worst droughts in decades, and grain prices are in a dramatic up-shift as a result. Worries over global food shortages are deepening as the summer months continue on, largely rain-free.
Many corn crops have already been lost, and there is fear that the soybean crops are next if the drought pattern continues. More than one third of the US is at severe drought levels, with the central US and parts of the southeast being hit particularly hard. There is little sign of relief in the future. July registered as the hottest on record. While some improvement is expected with cooler temperatures ushering in with autumn, low rain levels will keep significant improvements at bay.
The dwindling supply has sent grain prices soaring. The first week in August set an all-time record high for grain prices. They were almost fifty percent higher than at the end of May 2012 prior to the drought. Soybean prices also rose twenty five percent above pre-drought levels. These increases in grain and soybean prices have yet to hit US consumers, but some impact should be expected. While it won’t be a huge increase, it will affect the average US food consumer.
Prior to the drought, US farmers planted increased acreage and expected record harvests, which were expected to help replenish countries with depleted food supplies. However, this dream was hard hit with the drought and the realization that 2012 brought damaged crops and yielded minimal harvest.
The US Department of Agriculture released its World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates on August 10th, 2012. The estimates say that US feed grain supplies for 2012-2013 projected sharply lower with corn production forecast 2.2 billion bushels lower and sorghum production forecast 92 million bushels lower.
The forecast US corn yield is down 22.6 bushels per acre as a result of extreme heat and dryness and will be the lowest since 1995-1996. Corn area harvested for grain is down 1.5 million acres from last month’s forecast. In addition, US corn production for 2012-2013 is forecast at 10.8 billion bushels and total US corn supplies for 2012-2013 are projected down 2 billion bushels.
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