According to a recent study by ManpowerGroup, the lack of skilled talent in the U.S. has made it difficult for employers to fill many jobs. This imbalance has created a job gap that many companies are developing strategies to address. SAP, a leading provider of enterprise software and services for managing accounting, distribution, human resources, manufacturing functions and technology, created its Veterans to Work program to leverage its expertise and create meaningful opportunities for U.S. veterans. Tyrone Webb Jr., Program Manager, Platform Solutions Group, shared some of SAP’s strategies for reaching veterans and engaging employees in the program.
To acknowledge the tremendous contributions of the U.S. military, SAP launched the Veterans to Work initiative in November of 2012 to help U.S. veterans acquire the skills and training they need to be successful in today’s IT workforce. This program provides training, scholarships, and certification programs on SAP market leading solutions.
Diane Fanelli, COO of the Platform Solutions Group for SAP, conceived the program and developed the business case for it. Fanelli’s vision was based on the fast growth of the company and the tremendous need for individuals trained to support its human resource needs. SAP’s rapid growth in analytics, mobility, and technology has resulted in a shortage of trained and certified talent on SAP products. Fanelli realized the company had an opportunity to provide a career path for returning veterans while also seeding the market with SAP-trained and certified individuals who were schooled in the latest technology areas that are expecting the greatest growth over the next five years.
SAP’s training goals are aggressive, and veterans can become certified in one or more areas such as database, in-memory, mobile applications, and analytics, thus further broadening their job opportunities.
How can SAP employees engage in Veterans to Work?
Veterans attend SAP’s extensive educational offerings, taught both online and around the country, for free. Additionally, company employees volunteer to staff SAP’s presence at Hiring Our Heroes events around the country and engage in many aspects of the program. SAP has a strong corporate commitment to social responsibility, as evidenced by its Month of Service held annually in October in which thousands of employees volunteer in support of 150 charitable projects.
What communication strategies do you use to get the word out to veterans about this program?
We communicate through all forms of outreach, and have found that the military and government channels dedicated to assisting veterans have been important in connecting with them. We spread the word through outreach to government organizations like Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Labor, military career transition groups from all the services, and the National Guard. We attend major conferences and gatherings where veteran issues are discussed, and also collaborate with relevant nonprofits and educational institutions. In addition we use social media, PSA’s on radio stations in the Washington, D.C. area, and sponsor and participate in Hire Our Heroes Job Fairs throughout the country
Once veterans receive their certification, how does SAP help them find jobs?
By training veterans in SAP solutions, Veterans to Work also increases the talent base needed by SAP’s 200,000 partners and global customer base. Global leaders like CapGemini, WalMart, UnderArmour, Deloitte, Hewlett-Packard, Accenture, among many other firms, have lined up to interview and recruit from the pool of graduates. SAP taps into its partner infrastructure for employment opportunities for veterans, and company executives feature the program through presentations at meetings with partners, via our social media channels, and on our website.
Do you have any best practices or lessons learned that you would like to share with our members who might be trying to implement a similar program within their companies?
The value of a veteran is proven; they are trained, disciplined, and seasoned professionals, and SAP’s efforts have strongly supported the firm’s charitable goals. Our recommendations include:
- Executive sponsorship at the top of the company is critical to marshalling resources throughout the firm, and is critical to long-term success.
- Having one of our SAP Graduate Academy hires run the program has enabled extensive use of social media outreach.
- Guidance from SAP’s public affairs professionals has helped open doors to government leaders.