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Deputy Assistant Secretary for Veterans' Employment and Training Service, John K. Moran

Testimony Of John K. Moran
Deputy Assistant Secretary For
Veterans' Employment And Training Service
U.S. Department Of Labor
Before The Subcommittee On Economic Opportunity
Committee On Veterans' Affairs
United States House Of Representatives
September 20, 2012

Good Morning Chairman Stutzman, Ranking Member Braley and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in today's hearing on "Examining the Re-Design of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP)". With the drawdown outlined in the recently released Defense Strategic Review, the number of returning and transitioning Service Members is expected to increase over the next five years by an estimated 200,000 per year. The TAP redesign is an important part of the Administration's efforts to ensure that America fulfills its obligations to these Service Members, Veterans, and their families.

Every day, we are reminded of the tremendous sacrifices made by the Members of the U.S. Armed Services, National Guard and Reserve. They leave their friends, families and careers behind to defend our freedoms around the world. These brave men and women deserve a hero's welcome and a chance to utilize their unique skills to help rebuild our economy when they return home. Yet, all too often, those who have given so much for America face a difficult transition back to civilian life and struggle to find a job worthy of their talents. President Obama and Secretary Solis are committed to serving our military families as well as they've served us by providing them with the services and support they need and deserve to successfully transition to the civilian workforce and find and secure meaningful careers.

My name is John Moran, and as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) at the Department of Labor, I am proud of the work the Department is doing to support our Service Members, Veterans, and spouses. We provide these American heroes with the critical resources and expertise they need and deserve to help prepare them to obtain meaningful careers, maximize their employment opportunities, and protect their employment rights.

Prepare, Provide and Protect:

In all our efforts, the Department is guided by the three P's: Prepare, Provide and Protect. We Prepare our Veterans, separating Service Members and their spouses to transition from the military to the civilian workforce through a variety of programs, the most important and extensive of which is the Transition Assistance Program, which I will discuss in more detail later in my testimony.

We Provide them with the critical resources, expertise, and training to assist them in locating and obtaining meaningful careers. We do so through services provided at the more than 2,800 American Job Centers (AJC) (formerly known as Career One-Stops) that serve as the cornerstone for the Nation's workforce investment system, as well as at other locations. The Department ensures that Veterans, eligible spouses, and transitioning Service Members receive priority of service at the AJCs with respect to all Department of Labor (DOL)-funded employment and training programs.

As you know, the Department has decades of experience working with states, local areas, Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs), non-profits, employers, and many others to advance the recruitment, training and employment of Veterans and transitioning Service Members. Through the Jobs for Veterans State Grants (JVSG) program, for example, the Department provides grants to states to support Disabled Veterans' Outreach Program (DVOP) and Local Veterans' Employment Representative (LVER) staff that provide outreach services and intensive employment assistance to meet the needs of eligible Veterans and transitioning Service Members.

We Protect the employment rights of the men and women that serve this Nation and ensure they are provided every opportunity they have earned in the workplace. Among the important worker protection laws enforced by DOL is the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), which prohibits discrimination against Members of the Armed Services, Guard and Reserve because of their past, present, or future military obligations and provides for prompt reemployment and full restoration of benefits upon completion of protected service.

The Department also works diligently to investigate and resolve Veterans' Employment Opportunities Act (VEOA) complaints and to ensure that Veterans receive their due preference in Federal employment. In addition, we enforce the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA), which prohibits Federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating against protected Veterans and transitioning Service Members, and requires them to ensure equal opportunity in all aspects of employment.

These three P's guide all our efforts, day in and day out, to serve these brave men and women with a broad array of coordinated programs and initiatives that lead to the Secretary's vision of "Good Jobs for Everyone."

Transition Assistance Program (TAP) Employment Workshops:

The U.S. military transitions approximately 160,000 active duty Service Members and demobilizes 95,000 Reservists and National Guard members annually. Given these figures, it is imperative that we Prepare our men and women to reintegrate into the civilian workforce by providing transition assistance and employment services. This is especially true now that the Iraq war has officially ended and we are drawing down our presence in Afghanistan which we expect to result in an increased number of troops transitioning out of the military in the coming months.

As I mentioned earlier in my testimony, an important program, designed to prepare separating Service Members and their spouses' for transition from the military to civilian employment, is TAP, an interagency effort led by the Departments of Labor, Veterans Affairs (VA), Defense (DoD), and Homeland Security (DHS). Through TAP, the DOL brings to bear its extensive expertise in employment services to provide a comprehensive three-day TAP Employment Workshop, now known as the DOL Employment Workshop, at U.S. military installations around the world.

The Department began providing the DOL Employment Workshops over 20 years ago when Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1991 (P.L. 101-510). Since then, the number of workshops, participants and locations has continued to increase. For instance, in 2003 we expanded TAP to overseas military installations, pursuant to section 309 of the Veterans Benefits Act of 2003. Two years later, in FY 2005, DOL began offering Employment Workshops to returning members of the Reserve and National Guard and committed to providing requested modules at the 30, 60, and 90-day Yellow Ribbon Reintegration programs.

To date, the Department has provided training and services through Employment Workshops to over 2.5 million separating or retiring Service Members and their spouses at 272 locations worldwide. Last year alone, DOL provided more than 4,200 Employment Workshops to nearly 145,000 participants at domestic and overseas locations.

Since its inception, the DOL Employment Workshop has been a valuable tool for Service Members transitioning into the civilian workforce. However, while the needs of transitioning Service Members have changed over the past 20 years, the Transition Assistance Program had remained largely unchanged.

Last year, the Department initiated a major effort aimed at revamping and updating the Employment Workshop curriculum to bring it up to date and current with emerging best practices in career development and adult learning. DOL worked with its partner agencies to significantly redesign the DOL Employment Workshop to make it more engaging and relevant in light of the unique challenges facing returning Service Members, as they look to transition into meaningful civilian careers during the current economic recession. Aside from a new curriculum, delivery methods, and student hand-out materials, the redesign of the Employment Workshop also includes tools to help Service Members match their military experience to jobs that require similar training, experience, and skills.

VEI Task Force for a Career-Ready Military and the VOW to Hire Heroes Act:

Around the same time that DOL began the redesign effort, the President created a Veterans Employment Initiative (VEI) Task Force for a Career-Ready Military to develop proposals to maximize the career readiness of all Service Members. This effort was aimed at building on the existing TAP program to give separating Service Members a clear path: to civilian employment; to success in an academic or technical training program; or to the successful start-up of an independent business entity or non-profit organization. The Task Force was created in August of 2011, and included representatives from the Departments of Defense Veterans Affairs, Labor, Education, the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Together, we worked to develop a new transition program to meet the President's mandate for a career ready military.

The Task Force also worked to incorporate the requirements of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 (VOW), which the President signed into law in November 2011. The VOW Act mandates several reforms to the interagency TAP, such as mandatory participation, with some exceptions to be determined by DoD and DHS, in consultation with DOL and VA. The VOW Act also requires that by November 21, 2013, DOL use contract instructors or facilitators in delivering its Employment Workshop.

DOL Employment Workshop Redesign — Phase I:

The Department worked with our partner agencies on the VEI Task Force throughout the redesign process. In August 2011 we initiated the process by awarding a contract to redesign the DOL Employment Workshop curriculum. The first redesign of the employment workshop curriculum was completed in November 2011, with the publication of a TAP workshop participant manual, entitled "It's Your Future! DOL Employment Workshop: Participant Guide" and companion "Leader Guide" for workshop facilitators. In addition, facilitators were provided with CDs containing various videos and PowerPoint slides that could be used during their presentations. The new TAP curriculum was divided into 17 individual modules, 12 of which were intended to be taught in the classroom over three days. There are also three web-based modules and one to be included as a reference to be used after the workshop.

Prototype workshops using the new curriculum were then tested at four active duty military installations including, Andrews Air Force Base, Naval Station Norfolk, Marine Corp Base Camp Lejune, and the Army base at Fort Bragg. DOL then revised the curriculum based on observations and feedback from the four pilot sites.

DOL Employment Workshop Redesign — Phase II:

Beginning in December 2011, the current TAP workshop instructors, comprised of DVOPS and LVERs, were trained on how to facilitate the redesigned curriculum. In February 2012, this cadre of instructors began to deliver the workshop under a 3-month pilot program at 11 active duty installations across the services, including the following sites: Army (Ft. Bragg, Ft. Knox, Ft. Belvoir and Ft. Drum), Navy (NAS Jacksonville and Naval Base San Diego), Air Force (Travis AFB and JB McGuire), Marine Corps (MCB Quantico and MCAS Miramar), and Coast Guard (Cape May).

Beginning in February of 2012, the Department conducted a third-party formal evaluation of the workshop's effectiveness. In this evaluation, the aim was to determine if the redesigned TAP curriculum provided exiting Service Members with the skills, tools, and resources needed to transition back into civilian employment. Additionally, this evaluation effort was designed to capture direct feedback from TAP facilitators and workshop participants to assess levels of satisfaction, explore workshop effectiveness for participants, and identify potential areas in which the new curriculum could be revised and enhanced.

The main study findings and recommendations were based on over 5,200 comments derived from: (1) observational visits to 11 military bases piloting the new TAP curriculum; (2) in-person interviews with facilitators involved in conducting the pilot-tests of the new curriculum at these bases; (3) a survey of participants attending workshops at the pilot sites; and (4) a survey of facilitators conducting the workshops at the 11 military bases. Based on the preliminary results of this evaluation, along with feedback from the piloting sites and other commentators, a team of Subject Matter Experts began revising the curriculum in April of 2012.

Proposed revisions included:

  • Reduce the size of the participant manual.
  • Improve content by correcting editing mistakes, inaccuracies, outdated material, and by ensuring high interactivity is built into the curriculum.
  • Develop remedial/retraining method to current cadre of TAP facilitators on newly designed curriculum.
  • Rollout new revised DOL Employment Workshop by July 2, 2012 in conjunction with DoD Transition Goals Plans Success Pilots.

DOL Employment Workshop Redesign — Phase III:

In early May 2012, the revised DOL Employment Workshop curriculum was completed and sent out for review and comment to representatives from over 100 different organizations including Federal and state governmental entities, Members of Congress and their staff, Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), experts in adult learning and training techniques, Veterans, transitioning Service Members, State Workforce Agencies, Army, Air Force (USAF), Air Force Reserve (AFR), Air Force National Guard (AFNG), Coast Guard (USCG), Navy (USN), Marine Corps (USMC) and others.

Based on the feedback received from the pilot, along with the formal evaluation report, DOL fine-tuned the Employment Workshop curriculum. In June 2012, the revised curriculum and training were approved.

Redesigned 3-Day DOL Employment Workshop:

The redesigned DOL Employment Workshop focuses on experiential learning and best practices, with an increased emphasis on networking and communicating the Veteran's skill value to the employer. This new three-day curriculum relies heavily on interaction and adult learning principles. It is specifically geared toward the mechanics of getting a good job, exploring career interests, searching the labor market, building resumes, preparing for interviews, and negotiating a job offer.

On Day 1, for example, participants learn how to develop a "Change Management Plan" to identify an overall strategy for transitioning into the workforce, explore new careers that complement the skills and expertise learned through their military service, develop a master job application from which targeted resumes can be built, and learn how to research the job market using the latest search tools. On Day 2 participants learn how to analyze the job market, understand the difference between applications and resumes, how to use social media in job searches and networking, and practice targeted resume development. During the final session on Day 3, participants learn how searching for a Federal job differs from the private sector, and they hone their interview skills through a mock interview exercise.

Transition Goals, Plan, Success (GPS) Program:

The Department has collaborated with VEI Task Force members to undertake an additional pilot of the DOL Employment Workshop, along with the other components of the new redesigned TAP, collectively known as Transition GPS at seven military instillations. This new model will meet the President's call for a career-ready military, and is designed to be implemented over the entire course of a Service Member's military career.

One aspect of Transition GPS consists of a five-day series of training sessions and workshops that make up the core curriculum Service Members will be required to attend. During these five days, DoD will provide an overview of the program and available services, conduct a financial planning seminar and lead Service Members through a Military Occupational Code Crosswalk to translate their military skills, training, and experience into civilian occupations, credentials, and employment. The VA will conduct a workshop on available Veterans' benefits and services, and DOL will deliver the redesigned Employment Workshop previously described above. In addition, transitioning Service Members will have the option of participating in tailored tracks in addition to the Core GPS Curriculum including: (1) an education track; (2) a technical and skills training track; and (3) an entrepreneurship track.

The Transition GPS pilot was primarily focused on how well each agency's component pieces complement each other in order to ensure a logical flow of information and alleviate duplication. Feedback has been positive and indicates that the new DOL Employment Workshop is meeting the needs of transitioning Service Members and their spouses. Therefore, DOL does not anticipate any significant revisions to the curriculum, and we are moving forward with our phased rollout plan.

As mandated by the VOW Act, DOL awarded a contract in compliance with the 100 percent contractor facilitation requirement. We are now ahead of schedule to transition to full contract facilitation and implementation of the new DOL Employment Workshop curriculum at all military installations worldwide by January 2013.

The result has been a well-received, well-tested curriculum that was developed to be responsive to customer input, and inclusive of training best practices for adult learners. Preparing separating Service Members and their spouses for the transition to the civilian job market is central to our mission and we take that mission seriously.

Conclusion

In the next five years, one million Service Members men and women will be transitioning from active duty to civilian life. We owe them the best services and benefits our Nation can provide. The Department, along with the rest of the Administration, is firmly committed to fulfilling that sacred obligation. We strive daily to do so through programs and services designed to Prepare, Provide and Protect our Veterans, transitioning Service Members and their spouses.

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Braley, Members of the Subcommittee, this concludes my statement. Thank you again for the opportunity to testify today. I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

Attachment 1

DOL TAP Employment Workshop (DOLEW) Redesign Timeline

Action

Date:

Redesign TAP contract Awarded

8/2011

New DOLEW curriculum developed

10/2011

Began new DOLEW tested at 4 military installations

10/2011

DVOP/LVER facilitators were trained on new curriculum

12/2011

3-month Pilot program began at 11 sites

2/2012

DOLEW curriculum & training revisions

5/2012

DOLEW curriculum & training finalized and approved

6/2012

New DOLEW curriculum & training rollout

7/2012

DOLEW Facilitation Contract Awarded

8/2012

Contractor Phase-In Period to Recruit, Train and obtain SOFA Agreements for OCONUS Sites

10-12/2012

100% Contract Facilitation at all DOLEW sites

1/2013