VA wants more money to expand popular tech training program for job-seeking vets

military technical training

Veterans Affairs officials are pushing Congress to lift the funding cap on a popular pilot program for transitioning vets via tech training. The program focuses on technology training and they expect to use up all available funds by mid-summer.

“This is an extremely important tool in our toolbox,” Ronald Burke, deputy under secretary for policy at the Veterans Benefits Administration, told lawmakers last week. “If we are really serious about better employment [for veterans], this is one that needs to stay in that toolbox for vets technical training.”

The program, Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC), was launched in 2019 as a five-year pilot program. VA officials said interest in it has exceeded expectations, with more than 13,500 applications and 3,000 enrolled this year alone.

The initiative links transitioning veterans and some still-serving troops with “industry-leading training providers” to learn in-demand technology skills. Classes currently offered through the program include software development, data science, network security and web development skills.

VET TEC Details

The vets tech training program is free for veterans. The training companies receive only half of their costs when students enroll and complete the courses. Once the student secures meaningful employment in his or her field of study, the training company receives the other half. This is as an incentive designed to ensure the classwork turns into meaningful employment.

The VET TEC pilot was originally currently capped at $15 million annually but has already been boosted to $45 million. Burke said he expects the fiscal 2021 money to run out in the next two months.

“It’s a very popular program,” he said. “In order to sustain this level of volume, we’re looking at someone in the range of $125 million for VET TEC.”

According to the White House’s budget plan for fiscal 2022, the program will receive $45 million. But lawmakers on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee appeared open to the idea of further plus-ups, especially in light of challenges surrounding veterans unemployment connected to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.(continue reading)

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