WithYouWithMe is a skills training and job search platform supporting Defence Force veterans
Dwelling among them, I can say that one of the biggest complaints from millennials focuses around employment, whether it’s related to the ‘cruelty’ of not being able to find a well-paid job straight off the bat, or simply not knowing what career path to take (oh, the horror).
A significantly wider issue, but noticeably less talked about, however, is the employment difficulties veterans experience during their transition from military to civilian life.
According to data from WithYouWithMe, a startup working to ease this transition, the unemployment rate of Australian veterans sits at 30.2 percent, nearly six times higher than the national average of 5.9 percent.
Calling itself a “talent incubator”, WithYouWithMe looks to combat this number through its online job matching platform, which pairs veterans to jobs based on their skills, experience, and personality.
Looking at gaps in the labour market, the business works to identify where and what type of roles companies need filled, often doing so predictively ahead of time to ensure they have veterans ready for employment as soon as job positions become available.
Founded by Luke Rix and veteran Tom Moore, the startup is aiming to help veterans find their career pathway based on the roles they held in the defence force, empowering them to become competitive candidates through skill training programs and online mentorship, often led by ex-military personnel and employment coaches.
“We…employ veterans in companies through gaps in the labour market, such as cybersecurity and insight sales. There’s about 75 different career pathways that we train for,” said Moore.
Having served in the Australian Army for over seven years, from a local base to Afghanistan, Moore was eventually discharged from service due to medical reasons, leaving him with little choice but to pursue non-military career pathways.
With a qualified degree combined with years of military experience – both in and out of combat – Moore experienced the difficulties veterans face gaining employment first hand, after being knocked back from 15 job interviews.
“I figured that if I’m having this much trouble and I have a degree, what’s happening to my fellow soldiers?” said Moore.
Eventually moving on to work for a large company, Moore saw a number of veterans he knew struggle with the employment problem alongside other issues post-service issues, with some attempting suicide.
“I’d had enough,” said Moore.
“The process is broken; veterans don’t know what to apply for, and companies don’t know where to hire them, even if their intentions are real.”
Leaving his company job, Moore paired with his cofounder to launch WithYouWithMe, selling his car to fund the startup’s early stages.
Veterans on the platform enter a series of personal details, similar to the information required to fill out a CV, including what rank and role they held in the military, before the system churns out 10 career paths based on their “transferrable skills” and personality.
Selecting a career path of interest, veterans are able to complete a training course either online or offline, based on the nature of the content.
“Every 13 weeks we open online courses. A lot of our jobs are things such as mining, rail, and infrastructure, which is done off site, and we fund that all. Sales and business analyst courses are all completed online, and generally it takes six weeks to get through a course, which really just fills in some of their skill gaps, building on what skills they had from the military,” explained Moore.
“We charge the veteran nothing, but of course it’s quite costly to train someone. Originally we built a SaaS system, but no one wanted to buy veterans yet, so we pivoted to a consulting model.”
Acting as a recruitment agency, the startup earns revenue from hosting jobs, as well as through training a company’s internal mentors and building an exclusive “program” on the platform which allows organisations to directly tap into the platform’s talent pool.
“Companies can have an incubator built into our system, so a recruitment company, for example, could offer its own career pathway, which is branded to them,” said Moore.
For veterans who need assistance in understanding how non-military career paths work, the startup offers “Compass”, a program which teaches how the average civilian workplace operates, how it’s different, and how the entire job system functions.
From there, these users are allocated a mentor. Mentors help guide veterans through getting their job application up to scratch, setting up their Linkedin profile, and exposing them to their private network for potential employment opportunities.
“To become a mentor, you submit and application and we’ll approve it. They also talent scope, and grab some top quality guys and put them into companies such as Amazon, who we’re working with. About 75 percent of veterans we directly place to roles through the job platform, while the others get placed through the mentor’s network and recommendations,” explained Moore.
After a slow start last year, Moore said the business has been accelerating recently, placing 129 veterans into jobs over the last three months.
To help predict where opportunities in the job market will appear, then train veterans for these roles ahead of time, the startup is currently building a “predictive model” tool to operate this function, ultimately increasing employability rates for WithYouWithMe users.
Image: Tom Moore. Source: Supplied.