Tackling Veteran Unemployment with Open Data

Today is Veterans Day, a time to reflect on the sacrifices made by those who have served in the armed forces to protect the freedoms so precious to us. As a country, we must do all we can to support returning veterans’ efforts to find challenging and rewarding employment. It’s a fight that needs fighting: 188,000 veterans that served after 9/11 are currently unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The good news is that technology and data can be used to help address this problem—an effort that we at Workday are passionate about.

Earlier this year I participated in discussions in Washington D.C. focused on veteran employment issues. One of the biggest problems we identified is supply and demand—making sure employers can find skilled veterans and that veterans can find employers looking to hire people with their skills. These conversations led to the creation of Veterans Talent, an open data project led by a coalition of public and private organizations focused on leveraging technology to match unemployed veterans with employers.

Veterans Talent features an interactive map of the United States that lets users zoom in on counties to compare supply and demand for veteran skillsets using public and private data sets. Workforce planners and recruiters could use this tool to see where veterans with various skillsets are located, and educational institutions could use it to better develop curriculums and veteran training programs based on regional and skillset demand.

Veterans Talent is sponsored by the Duffield Family Foundation and results from a collaborative effort that includes Glassdoor, Hunch Analytics, LinkedIn, Mic, Monster.com, PayScale, and Workday. It is still at an early stage, but it illustrates the art of the possible—what can be achieved when you open up data and mix public and private data sets together.

In addition, the project has uncovered a number of insights through analysis of the data collected to build the map, such as:

  • Around 14% of the entry level IT-related jobs in the 10 largest U.S. cities could be filled by veterans.
  • Veterans are more likely to be overeducated for their current jobs than nonveterans.
  • Counties with greater economic mobility tend to have a lower share of unemployed veterans.

Findings like these can help government policymakers and businesses develop more impactful veteran hiring strategies. At Workday, we’re already discovering ways to apply this open data methodology to workforce planning tools so our customers can reach their goals for onboarding veteran talent, and we’ve just begun to scratch the surface of what we can do with this information. It’s exciting to share how the power of the cloud and data analysis can be used to help those who have sacrificed so much for us, and I look forward to seeing how much more we can achieve in 2015.