Manufacturing Institute Releases Report on Transitioning Military-Affiliated Talent into Manufacturing

Washington, D.C. The Manufacturing Institute—the workforce development and education affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers—in partnership with Colonial Life, released a report on how manufacturers can optimize their recruitment and retention efforts for military-connected talent. The report highlights case studies from the MI’s Heroes MAKE America initiative, using testimonials from leading manufacturers and from military-affiliated manufacturing team members to illustrate the best practices manufacturers are using to meet the unique needs of the military talent pool and leverage their skills and experience.

“The MI is extraordinarily proud of the growth and accomplishments of the Heroes MAKE America initiative, and we’re especially excited about its future. Heroes MAKE America provides real recruitment and retention solutions for manufacturers, while simultaneously fostering the next-generation of skilled manufacturing workers, preparing military-affiliated talent for rewarding careers in the industry and connecting them with eager employers,” said MI President and Executive Director Carolyn Lee. “The military-affiliated talent pool is essential to the growth of the skilled manufacturing workforce as our industry works to overcome the skills gap. This report demonstrates that manufacturers who find new ways to incorporate members of the greater military community into their recruitment pipelines gain a competitive edge.”

Key Findings:

  • The military-affiliated talent pool is large. With approximately 200,000 service members leaving the service each year, there were 8.6 million veterans employed in 2022, with 12% in manufacturing.
  • The MI’s Heroes MAKE America program has seen great success in issuing more than 6,000 industry-recognized certifications, achieving a 90% placement rate among graduates in more than 350 companies in 48 states and introducing more than 12 million individuals from the greater military community to information about manufacturing careers through social media, VA newsletters and virtual and in-person industry events.
  • As military service comprises years of rigorous training, manufacturing leaders overwhelmingly report that military-affiliated talent are disciplined and process-oriented, possessing strong leadership and technical skills and “soft skills,” including a strong work ethic.
  • The top military-acquired skill that HMA alumni considered most applicable to their manufacturing career was attention to detail and precision in work (90.0%).
  • The top reasons HMA alumni decided to pursue a career in manufacturing included earnings potential (60.0%) and job security and stability (58.5%).
  • Research suggests that veterans remain with their initial company 8.3% longer than nonveterans and are 39% more likely to be promoted earlier than nonveterans.
  • Manufacturing leaders are attracting military-affiliated talent through efforts such as partnering with local military installations and veteran service organizations (35.2%), providing educational benefits (28.6%), staffing their human resources team with military-affiliated recruiters (28.6%), creating veteran employee resource groups/mentorship programs (28.6%) and working with the community on veterans’ initiatives (28.6%).
  • Manufacturers would benefit from developing more structured and targeted methods of collecting and analyzing metrics related to attracting and retaining military talent. Developing an internal system that tracks the number of self-identified military talent applicants, hires and tenure can bolster the business case for focusing recruitment efforts on this population.

-The MI-

The Manufacturing Institute builds a resilient manufacturing workforce prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the future. Through implementing groundbreaking programs, convening industry leaders and conducting innovative research, the MI furthers individual opportunity, community prosperity and a more competitive manufacturing industry. As the 501(c)3 nonprofit workforce development and education affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers, the MI is a trusted adviser to manufacturers, equipping them with solutions to address the toughest workforce issues. For more information on the MI, please visit