A recruiting promise the military makes is you will learn a valuable skill that will help you with a future career when you retire from military service. To help with this transition, the DoD developed the SkillBridge program to help service members retiring from the military and entering the private sector.
What is SkillBridge, who qualifies, and how it can work for you?
What Is SkillBridge?
The DoD has sponsored a transition program for many years known as Transition Assistance Program (TAP). Along with TAP, they regularly host job fairs. These draw the usual host of local law enforcement agencies, franchisee opportunities, and other assorted companies, county, state, and federal agencies.
But TAP was a simple two-day course that was nothing short of a crash course on moving on to your next phase of life. This wasn’t a huge deal for a 22-year-old who finished a four-year hitch and has nobody else in their life to worry about. But for the careerists out there, it was woefully inadequate.
Take the airman who spent last twenty-plus years of their life dedicated to the same job, the same uniform, the same lifestyle. If they enlisted at 18 or 19 years of age, they haven’t ever done anything else. The program needed an overhaul.
SkillBridge is exactly what the name implies: it is a bridge between service and the private and public sector workforces. For the servicemembers in the audience, it is a permissive assignment that, if approved, the service member basically serves an internship on their final few months of their enlistment or commission. The service member is still paid their active-duty salary and benefits because the program is conducted in their last six months.
It’s a win for the employers because they get access to employees who then can evaluate and “size up” for their organization. At the end of the internship, they will know what they have and ideally hire the member. It’s a win/win for all parties.
Who Is Eligible for SkillBridge?
All service members in good standing who are within their last year of service. However, they need to (not required but should) complete all other transition program coursework prior to entering SkillBridge so they understand all of the options available to them.
Once they are approved for SkillBridge, that’s it. It is in their final 180 in service, so once they are onboarded with a partnering employer, their service has twilighted. It is up to the service member to practice due diligence to ensure that they are selecting the right industry, and the company they have a genuine interest in working for.
For instance, a career aviator/pilot who wants to keep flying should not join SkillBridge with an insurance agency. Diving deeper, a pilot who doesn’t want to deal with bulk passengers, i.e., commercial airlines, shouldn’t join those organizations in SkillBridge. If they want to fly charter or private jets, work with a charter or private jet company.
What Is the Process for Eligible Service Members?
This article is intended as a guide for transition service members. For full program information please reference the SkillBridge program website – https://skillbridge.osd.mil/.
But basically, you are required to attend all transitioning training as part of your workday; it is a mandatory appointment. However, you are not required to take part in SkillBridge; it is a voluntary program that exists only to make your transitioning efforts better.
Get in touch with your local transition office or education office at your assigned duty station (or the nearest duty station for remotely assigned members) for service-specific information. If you are deployed when you’re coming up on your transition window, check out the official SkillBridge website – https://skillbridge.osd.mil/.
How Many Eligible Service Members Use SkillBridge?
It’s tough to know just how many service members are using SkillBridge, but every year there are about 200,000 service members transitioning out of service, most of whom are eligible for the program.
Let’s be honest: if you are transitioning out of military service unless you have an education plan lined up to use your GI Bill benefits or have a locked-in job opportunity from networking throughout your time in uniform, you should explore SkillBridge. In fact, you probably should anyway. If nothing else, you work as an apprentice or intern for a company or agency for a while and decide not to pursue employment. You still get the networking and experience for your resume.
Are There SkillBridge Opportunities for Pilots?
Absolutely! Pilots are in high demand across the world, and there are plenty of opportunities for pilots to get on board with a great company. Every corner of the industry is looking for pilots, so it is a skill that translates well.
We understand that military aviators have lived a stressful life. They are always the tip of the spear, so to speak. If you are tired of high ops-tempo lifestyle, you may enjoy flying charter or private jets. Instead of flying into the most congested airspace in America back-to-back-to-back, you will often utilize smaller airports (why fly into a hub when you can avoid the traffic?).
Silverhawk Aviation is looking for your experience and has great opportunities available for transitioning military pilots. Come take a look at our immaculate fleet of Cessna Citations (various models), and King Air 90s.
Also, if you are outside of your window for SkillBridge, we would still love to hear from you and see if you are a good fit for our company! We are the premier charter jet, fractional ownership, and aircraft management agency in the Midwest. We are from the Midwest and we understand our midwestern clientele. If you think you’re a good fit, get in touch and we’ll talk about the specifics!