WATCH ABOVE: Kijii has launched “Veteran Friendly” ads in an attempt to attract veterans to jobs online. Roughly 1,700 jobs were posted on day one. Mark Carcasole reports.
TORONTO – Many Canadian military vets say one of the biggest struggles they encounter when returning to civilian life is finding a good job.
Their skills, they’re often told, are not transferable.
David Blasman had his last release from the military in April and since then, he says he can’t find a job.
Having served in the Arctic and Afghanistan, he says he has no shortage of learned skills: “I like to emphasize the leadership skills in the Canadian Forces…It’s the best training you’ll get in Canada,” he says.
“You have people with background in logistics, communications…project management, it’s huge.”
According to Blasman, one of the biggest challenges job-seeking vets face is having their education acknowledged, because much of what they learn isn’t taught in college or university.
“A lot of our career is classroom work, believe it or not,” he says. “It’s just that qualification, it does not carry on into the civilian world.”
A 2014 report by Canada Veteran’s Affairs would say Blasman is in a minority, but still a sizable group.
Surveying reserve and regular force vets released from the military between 1998 and 2012, the report shows unemployment levels between five and seven percent in all classes.
It claims reservists saw an over 80 percent employment rate in 2013, while regular force vets were 71 percent-employed that year. Through all classes, over 10% were identified as not in the workforce; and of those who reported working, depending on class, eight to 12 percent reported working low income jobs.
Classified site Kijiji is trying to put veterans in touch with companies willing to give them a fair shake with a new “Veteran Friendly” job designation; allowing employers posting jobs to signify that veterans would be “highly considered.”
So far, over 1,700 such jobs have been posted Canada-wide for everything from sous chef to painter, receptionist, truck driver and security guard.
Construction contractor Damon Bennett worked with Kijiji on the initiative. The owner of Bennett Construction says he regularly hires vets to work his jobs and hasn’t had a bad experience.
“There’s no obstacle that’s too big for them, they’re willing to tackle anything,” he says, describing this as an important initiative to him.
As for Blasman, he’s headed for film school soon but his job search continues.
He says vets aren’t looking for handouts; “All we want to do is just prove our skill set and then get in the working world.”