In the Army’s push to create a credentialing program that lets soldiers translate their skills into civilian job qualifications, the service launched a pilot in Texas last year, and the plan is to expand it over the next couple of years, according to Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey.
Soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas-based reservists and Texas Army National Guardsmen have been participating in the experiment since October.
“I’m happy to report that that limited user test is going well and we are working with the soldiers and our industry partners to provide them world-class training, and I assure you it will be world-class training, education, and of great value,” Dailey said Thursday in testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommitee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.
There are 31 possible credentials in that pilot, including human resources, project management, coding, personal training and welding.
“And it looks like we will be expanding that program across the Army by the end of [fiscal year] 19, FY 20,” Dailey added.
Soldiers are already able to obtain some civilian credentials, including more than 100 types of journeyman qualifications that are supported by their experiences in basic training and advanced individual training. However, not one of them applies to junior enlisted infantrymen, the Army’s largest military occupational specialty.
“But this initiative allows the preponderance of our soldiers who are combat arms to pursue what is called self-direct credentials,” Dailey said of the Army’s in-house credentialing effort. “Those young men and women who leave the Army and don’t necessarily have a skill that translates to the civilian sector ― we think this is the next big step for our soldiers who are transitioning from service, in order to gain the skills necessary to be valued and productive members of their communities when they get out.”
The plan, backed by Republicans and Democrats in Congress, would allow more flexibility with the military education funding.
Some of the credentials from the pilot program are covered by the GI bill, but Dailey told Army Times in 2017 that leadership would be exploring the cost-benefit of using tuition assistance ― which pays thousands into soldier’s college educations ― to cover certificates.
Bipartisan bills to fund credentials, known as the “Certify Heroes Act,” were introduced in the House and Senate last March, but have not moved forward.