More than 250 members of the military community and more than 190 members from the business community attended the second annual National Transition exChange organized by Canada Company.
Held on Nov. 15, in Ottawa at the Aviation and Space Museum, this national conference gives military members transitioning to civilian life and military spouses the chance to connect with employer partners and gain invaluable tools.
“It’s really to provide a national avenue to educate, enable and empower our veterans and spouses to seek that career, that second career for the military members or that portable, mobile career for the spouses. It’s really bringing the tools to the table, the connections that you need to be meet to be able to learn and or understand from the business perspective who’s out there interested in hiring you,” said Angela Mondou, Canada Company President.
The day was broken into two key components. The first was an educational portion with panel discussions. These panel discussions were geared to their specific audience: veterans or spouses. Panel discussions featured an array of speakers such as Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence; Karen McCrimmon, MP and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence; LGen. Christine Whitecross, Chief of Military Personnel; and VAdm. Mark Norman, Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff, Canadian Armed Forces.
For the first time, the recently launched METSpouse program was also featured at the National Transition exChange.
Spouses had the opportunity to attend multiple panel discussions. In the morning session a panel featuring HR representatives from eight different sectors including health care, banking, government, and engineering, informed spouses on the employer perspective.
“What I told them was to talk to the spouses. Give them the real deal about what it’s like trying to find work, not just work but work in your career field and how to approach employers, and address those issues that many spouses are reluctant to raise, the number one being I’m a military spouse,” stated Kerry Wheelehan, Director, Military Employment Transition Spouse (METSpouse) Program.
According to Wheelehan, she received a great deal of positive feedback from the employer partners part of the panel.
“They said (the spouses) had great questions. They were a great group, very professional. These spouses came dressed for success and not only what they wore but their demeanour. They were prepared,” noted Wheelehan.
In the afternoon, spouses then attended a panel discussion featuring Ellyn Dunford, wife of the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Wheelehan as the wife of Gen. Jonathan Vance, the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), both women spouses to the highest ranking military members in their countries. Vanier Institute CEO Nora Spinks served as moderator.
“Ellyn and I talked about the challenges of finding employment for spouses and what we do in our countries to help meet those challenges,” explained Wheelehan.
The CDS’s wife stressed the important role MFRCs play for spousal employment.
“They have their finger on the pulse of the military spouse because they know what is going on within their communities, they know what spouses want. They also know the business community,” said Wheelehan.
The second key component of the National Transition exChange was the career connect held in the afternoon.
“We don’t call it a job fair purposefully because it is more than a job fair. You have 70 companies there who have gone through military 101 training, whether it’s webinar or in person. They’ve committed and signed an agreement with us committing to time and effort in engaging and hiring the military member,” said Mondou.
Also at the National Transition exChange, Canada Company announced that Employment and Social Development Canada will be contributing $1.1 million. This funding will go towards creating a searchable online database and forecasting tool to help members of the military community find meaningful employment.
Additionally, several companies were recognized for the 2016 MET Top Employer Recipients at the National Transition exChange. Companies recognized this year included Aerotek, Belairdirect Bell Calian and United Rentals.