Last updateWed, 23 Jun 2021 3pm

Jobs in Manufacturing: Training and Connections for Military Personnel

Manufacturers are looking for qualified workers and military personnel transitioning to civilian life who have valuable skills and are seeking work.

Heroes MAKE America, a program from the Manufacturing Institute (MI), offers training and support to veterans who want to work in manufacturing. The program also partners with manufacturing leaders who are hiring veterans and proactively building supportive communities of veterans within their organizations.



Many employers have found that workers with military experience often have the discipline, focus and organizational skills prized in manufacturing. As one veteran said in a Heroes video, “Just doing what we do naturally will already set you ahead of the curve.” Specific knowledge and skills gained during military service make these prospective employees able to rapidly start contributing in areas such as electronics, mechanics, logistics and information technology.

Unfortunately, the transition from military to civilian life and employment can sometimes be challenging. The same skills go by different terminology, for example, and a veteran may not know how to translate skills gained in the military to fit with civilian job descriptions. The pandemic has added more obstacles. To ease the transition, Heroes provides connection with program participants and alumni and with manufacturers committed to the program.

Since the Heroes program started in January 2018, it has helped participants find jobs at 250 companies in 39 states, said Carolyn Lee, executive director at the Manufacturing Institute, speaking before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs’ Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity in May of this year. The Heroes program is approved under the Department of Defense SkillBridge program.


The Heroes training program includes instruction in manufacturing skills at five locations in the U.S. and remotely to veterans, National Guard Reservists, service members within 180 days of separation/retirement and their spouses. Training is offered for:

  • Certified Production Technician (CPT)
  • OSHA 10
  • Forklift operation
  • Certified Logistics Technician (CLT)
  • Mechatronics, including testing for the industry-recognized Siemens Level 1 Mechatronic Systems Assistant Certification

This training provides participants with in-demand manufacturing knowledge and skills in safety, quality, maintenance, manufacturing processes and production. Trainings are eight to 15 weeks long and the mechatronics program confers 16 credit hours of college-level study. Included in the training are visits to manufacturing sites and networking opportunities with participating companies. Career readiness instruction and placement support are also integrated into the program. Since its inception, the program has had a placement rate of over 90%, Lee said.


For employers wanting to hire and retain Heroes participants and other talent from the military community, MI offers resources online, including case studies, webinars and a Heroes MAKE America Playbook.

Manufacturers who promote and support hiring veterans have initiatives of their own, highlighted on the Heroes website. Some examples:

  • Dow has adopted the Military Degree Equivalence program. This grants veterans the equivalent of an associate or bachelor’s degree when applying for job openings.
  • Arconic participates in many ways, through national training initiatives like Heroes MAKE America or partnerships with specific military bases. The company is deeply involved in building bridges and helping to ease the transition from military to civilian life.

According to the Heroes MAKE America Playbook executive summary, manufacturers interviewed said that the recruitment, hiring and retention of veterans and the broader military community was not only a moral imperative, but perhaps, more importantly, a business imperative. Many of these manufacturers recognized the positive impact that veterans have on their company culture, morale and, in turn, their bottom line.

“Veterans are well positioned to succeed in a manufacturing career with skills, talents and training that are highly valued in the industry,” said Lee. “And with more than 700,000 manufacturing jobs open today—and 4 million to fill by 2030—they are in great demand. The Manufacturing Institute is committed to helping today’s American heroes become tomorrow’s manufacturing leaders.”  

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