By Alexandra Shea, Fort Jackson Leader
“I am transitioning from active duty and was able to participate in the Career Skills Program,” said Sgt. Porch Colts, a 42A – Human Resource Specialist working in the Company D, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment training room. “I was able to gain skills in the financial services industry. Because of CSP, I’m employed. My last day at Fort Jackson is the first day of my new job.”
As a component of the Soldier life cycle, the Career Skills Program provides Soldiers with opportunities to participate in career and employment skill training during their last 180 days of military service. CSP opportunities include pre-apprenticeships, apprenticeships, internships, employment skills and on the job training in a variety of industries.
The programs are of little to no cost for Soldiers. For programs that do require funding, the Post 911 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill and Credentialing Assistance can help cover costs.
While not promised, Soldiers often receive employment offers while participating in the programs. Like Colts, they will have the ability to step out of their boots and into work shoes within a matter of weeks after leaving service. Which can also mean peace of mind for transitioning Soldiers who may worry about employment after military service.
“I wish they offered this program when I was getting out,” said Jude Marranco, a 20 plus-year Army military police veteran and division chief of Fort Jackson’s Army Continuing Education Services, or Education Center.
The program is interchangeable with skills learned through a military occupation specialty or a career that peaks a Soldier’s interests. While the main goal of the program is to set Soldiers up for as much success in a civilian career as they were in the military, reduce veteran homelessness, prevent veteran Families from living below poverty lines, but also ensures a Soldier gets a job in a career they really want.
There are two paths within the program – approved and individual programs. Approved programs are established programs that have been vetted and approved by Fort Jackson and include the Veteran Affairs Warrior Training Advancement Course and Hiring Our Heroes. For those with a specific interest outside of the approved programs, Soldiers can participate in the individual program such as one with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Office.
“The only difference between the approved and individual program is the individual is allowed to pursue an opportunity that may be more in their interests but doesn’t fall into one of the approved programs,” said Shelby Hebing, an Education Center counselor who specializes in CSP. “We currently have someone doing an internship with Columbia Scuba because he wants to be an instructor and open his own business when he gets out. He will be able to sit for his Scuba Instructor Exam after he completes his CSP.”
Many industries are included in the program locally including the Troops to Firefighters, 9-1-1 dispatch operator and Training Concepts-Information Technology. Additional programs such as solar power, maintenance and repair, construction and extraction, heavy equipment, commercial drivers, and Heroes Corporate Fellowship Academy for management and office administration support are offered across the nation. For those interested in participating in program out of state can apply for Permissive Temporary Duty to attend.
More information about the industries and locations available can be found at https://home.army.mil/imcom/index.php/customers/career-skills-program. A Common Access Card will be needed to view the individual programs and to apply.
“It is the Soldier’s responsibility to figure out what they want to do and what company they want to work with,” Hebing said. “We give them the autonomy to make that decision for themselves. They will just need to get in contact with the point of contact for that program directly.”
A complete list of CSP managers and their contact information is found on the website.
Soldiers interested in participating in CSP will need to complete an application in addition to supporting documentation such as a participation memorandum signed by the Soldier’s chain of command, leave form, legal review, any company forms and a completed DD Form 2648 available through the Soldier for Life-Transition Assistance Program.
Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, interested Soldiers are encouraged to visit the website or request an appointment with program coordinators Shelby Hebing and Vivian Grant at 751-5341.
“While our doors may be locked (to help reduce the spread of COVID-19),” Marranco said. “We are here and always open.”