Many servicemembers leaving military service know what they want to do once out of the military. Some will use their GI Bill and go to school; others will enter the civilian workplace doing again what they had done before joining the military; others may enter their family business to help carry on that legacy.

But what about members that joined the military right out of high school and have no experience or training in the civilian workplace? Not only may they be in a quandary about what they want to do post-military, but they only know what they have learned from their military service. And while that did hone and teach many of the desired the soft skills employers seek in employees, they may lack hard skills or experience that would make them more competitive. Whether or not servicemembers are looking to stick with the same skill or learn a new one, DoD’s Skillbridge can help them navigate that transition.

Enter SkillBridge Training

By taking advantage of this DoD-sanctioned training opportunity, servicemembers can gain experience working with one of the program’s industry partners during their last 180 days in uniform. Training opportunities cover a wide range of industries that include energy, information technology (including cyber), manufacturing, retail, transportation, civil service … just to name a few.

The whole purpose behind SkillBridge is helping bridge the skill gap between a servicemember leaving the military and entering a new chapter of their life as a civilian, hence the name. The training is usually accomplished in-person via OJT/apprenticeships or internships; however some online opportunities also exist.

SkillBridge Training Opportunities

Currently there are 1,293 SkillBridge training opportunities varying in length from 91 days to the full 180 days. Most of the training locations are in the Lower 48 states; however, there are also a few opportunities in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Guam. A sampling of the SkillBridge industry partners include big-name businesses like Amazon, John Deere, Lockheed Martin, United Health Group and the Veterans Administration.

The Advantage

Not only is the SkillBridge program a good way for a servicemember to get their foot in the door of a civilian workplace (and possibly hired by the employer they train with), but it also gives the employer a chance to evaluate the individual to see if that person would be a good fit for their company culture before offering them a job … and at no cost to the company!

However, participation in SkillBridge must be approved by the first O4/ Field Grade Commander in the servicemember’s chain of command and when the mission will permit the individual to leave their military job during the last six months of their enlistment. From a command perspective, it greatly enhances the transition process of leaving the military and from the servicemember’s perspective, helps ease the fear of how s/he will earn a living once on the outside. If approved, the servicemember is authorized up to 180 days of permissive duty to focus solely on their new SkillBridge “mission”.

However to be considered for SkillBridge, a potential candidate must comply with these three requirements:

  1. Have up to 180 days of service remaining prior to the date of separation and have at least 180 days of continuous active-duty service.
  2. Obtain approval from the first O4/ Field Grade Commander in your chain of command.
  3. Agree that your SkillBridge participation can be terminated at any time, if military mission requirements change and require your presence at your military job.

For undecided servicemembers leaving military service, SkillBridge can be a no-cost employment advantage that should be further explored. To find out more information about SkillBridge opportunities, fill out their online form.

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.