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Military to Civilian - Know These Valuable Resources By Heidi McBride

Posted 1 years 188 days ago ago by Admin

Combatting the pilot and mechanic shortage is on the forefront of the agenda for most  helicopter companies today. Finding a solution to this shortage, with qualified candidates, seems to be evading even the most prestigious helicopter companies.

There is, however, a rich resource of highly qualified aviation employees that has been overlooked and underrepresented for too long. This vast resource of aviation experts can be found within the SkillBridge program founded by the Department of Defense.

The DOD SkillBridge program was developed to facilitate active duty military members, with 180 days to their exit date, make a successful transition into the civilian workforce.  According to their website the DOD SkillBridge program allows transitioning service members to “gain valuable civilian work experience through specific industry training by matching civilian opportunities to a service member’s job training and work experience.” and “…aims to serve as a bridge between military service and civilian employment, with the Department of Defense overseeing the placement of service members in a variety of employment fields.” (https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ofccp/opinion-letters/dod-skillbridge) This program develops partnerships with participating companies who agree to bring in transitioning, active duty military members to work for them in an internship capacity at no cost to the company. The SkillBridge Program is unique in that it allows these active duty military members to continue to draw their full salary and benefits while they work in an intern capacity at these participating partner companies.  After 180 days have transpired, the company has the opportunity to hire these individuals on as permanent employees. Conversely, the service member is under no obligation to remain at the participating company if they choose to explore additional opportunities elsewhere. However, by choosing to bring in highly qualified candidates from the military into your company as a specialized intern, you have the ability to not only mentor and guide these military members through a successful transition into the civilian aviation workforce, but to also assist in shaping them into a highly skilled candidate for future employment. If you are interested in applying to become an approved DOD SkillBridge partner, you can find the application on the DOD SkillBridge website at (https://skillbridge.osd.mil/industry-employers.htm).

While just about any company can apply to become an authorized partner with the DOD SkillBridge Program, the obstacle encountered for aviation specific companies is finding candidates who meet the necessary flight and maintenance qualifications. Unfortunately, just being an authorized partner within the DOD SkillBridge program does not ensure that only fully qualified individuals are applying to work at your company.

In order to provide a comprehensive  solution to this obstacle, a group of Aviation Veterans have joined forces to create SkyBridge LLC (https://skybridgevets.com/?page_id=14). SkyBridge is a veteran-owned-and-operated company that works in conjunction with the DOD SkillBridge program to help place transitioning active duty military aviators with civilian helicopter industry partners.  Since SkyBridge is already an approved DOD SkillBridge partner, they are able to act as an intermediary for both the transitioning active duty military helicopter pilots, A&P mechanics, and SkyBridge company partners who are looking to hire these qualified candidates. SkyBridge has modeled their third-party talent acquisition methods after companies like Amazon, John Deere, Masonite, and Lowes and they are the only aviation focused, third party provider of DOD SkillBridge applicants.

SkyBridge ensures their corporate partners are getting the right candidate by verifying the applicant meets all the necessary requirements for the position and reflects the type of character desired by each company culture. Consequently, corporate partners will have the opportunity to put these internship candidates through their entire hiring process, including the necessary skills tests and evaluating interview prior to accepting the applicant into the internship program.  If you are interested in becoming a SkyBridge  company partner, you can reach their team directly at [email protected].

Our goal at the Helicopter Association International (HAI) Heli Expo Mil2Civ workshop is to use every resource we have to ensure our active duty military members make a successful transition into the civilian helicopter industry. While we believe that SkyBridge is an excellent resource in finding and employing highly qualified candidates through the DOD SkillBridge program, your helicopter company can apply to be an approved DOD SkillBridge partners on its own. The DOD is always looking to expand their list of authorized partners. If your company would like to develop its own human resource department to accept and process applicants, here is the link to become a SkillBridge partner. (https://skillbridge.osd.mil/industry-employers.htm).

Heidi McBride was a helicopter crew chief in the U.S. Coast Guard and is now a multi-engine IFR helicopter pilot working in the oil and gas industry.

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