When state and federal governments put personal restrictions in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19, some economic protections were put in place for the U.S. labor market. Companies like financial giant Goldman Sachs offered to suspend any job cuts in an attempt to keep the economy stable.

But with the pandemic ongoing, Goldman and others are having to put an end to that moratorium in an effort to help its own financial future. In the last week of September 2020, roughly five months into the pandemic, Goldman announced it would lay off 1% of its workforce. Allstate Insurance, the Walt Disney Company and several U.S.-based airlines also announced sweeping layoffs.

Pandemic-fueled layoffs in and of themselves aren’t new. But Bloomberg notes they are now going beyond hourly employees and are starting to hit office workers much harder than they have since the crisis started in March. .

Both for veterans who are affected by the most recent round of layoffs and those looking to increase their value as an employee and in their current gig, it might be time to consider a few steps. These programs are designed to train veterans and help them get — and keep — great jobs.

Upskilling/Reskilling

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is pushing its Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC) program for veterans to develop new skills for the tech industry. Jobs in programming, software, media and big data could all be just a few clicks away, as long as you have at least one day of unexpired GI Bill benefits left.

There are also a number of reskilling and upskills programs in the corporate world for eligible veterans, which include Microsoft’s Software and Systems Academy or Amazon Workforce Solutions’ Military Apprenticeship. Many of America’s top corporations have special programs for training or hiring veterans, it’s just a matter of looking through a website or searching for them.

There are also many nonprofit reskilling organizations geared to help veterans join a new industry. These are groups like Workshops for Warriors, who train veterans in skilled trades to join the American manufacturing sector.

Federal Employment

USAJobs.gov even developed a special portal to inform veterans about their opportunities and preferences in federal employment, as well as other special hiring practices and rules designed to keep American military veterans in a job throughout hard times.

To better understand federal hiring practices, veterans hiring preferences and how the process works, The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), created FedsHireVets, a portal to answer any questions veterans might have about getting a government job or how they can find listings in their area.

Start a Business

If all else fails, veterans can still go out and start their own businesses to use the skills they already have to become their own boss. The U.S. Small Business Administration has a number of programs for veterans looking to start a business. The most notable is the Boots to Business Reboot program, which trains veterans how to found and build their business. They can even show aspiring veterans how to fund their new ventures.

Some corporations will even train you to start a business just so they can use your business as a new partner. For example, Amazon is training vets to start delivery companies just to meet the rising demand of users shopping from home. Like other corporate-based training, many programs exist and just require a bit of searching to discover what opportunities are out there.

Whether starting their own business, reskilling, upskilling or going back to school, the important thing to remember during this economic downturn is that there are many options available. The unemployment rate for veterans has been at a slow decline since hitting a 20-year peak in April, and that trend is likely to continue.

— Blake Stilwell can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com. He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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