Members of Utah National Guard's 211th aviation unit attend a job fair for U.S. military veterans in West Jordan, Utah. Photo: George Frey/Bloomberg

Veterans “may not be able to convert their skills and abilities, and sometimes we’re not sure what their skills might be,” said Dave Ferguson, General Electric Co. (GE)’s manager of military staffing and recruiting. In addition to the discipline and teamwork that comes with military service, he said, some veterans have repair and maintenance skills such as the ability to repair the gas-turbine engines GE sells to the Navy. Those who’ve seen the most combat, though, often have skills and training that are harder to translate to the civilian world. GE has pledged to hire 1,000 veterans a year for five years. That would amount to about 10 percent of all new hires annually, “a pretty lofty goal” that the Fairfield, Connecticut-based company hasn’t met in previous years, he said. The transition programs offered by the military vary by service branch, each offering at minimum a three-day workshop that teaches skills such as resume writing and job interviewing.

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