Houston Airports Strengthen Veterans Community

As community partners, airports are continually embracing opportunities that recognize the immense contributions veterans make to our communities and empower them as they move beyond their military service.

Houston Airport System is one of several airports across North America leading the effort to bring the Edge4Vets jobs training program to prepare and connect veterans to jobs that can lead to careers in aviation.  This work is incredibly important in Texas, which boosts one of the largest veteran populations in the United States. Edge4Vets is part of Airports Council International – North America’s “Workforce of the Future” initiative.

Developed by the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University in New York, Edge4Vet is operating at several airports currently, including Houston, LAX, Greenville/Spartanburg, Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky, Edmonton, Memphis, Jackson, MS.

The program combines a workshop series with online training to help veterans do what business leaders say they most – that is, learn how to translate their strengths from the military, including values and skills, into “tools” for civilian success. The program enlists HR executives and hiring managers from partner companies, including airport authority departments and stakeholder companies, to attend the Edge4Vets workshop and serve as “mentors” to offer feedback to the veterans as Edge4Vets teaches the participants how to create a Plan4Success.

The Plan4Success guides them in the creation of statements in four areas – vision, values, skills and action – that identify their strengths and gives them an opportunity in clear, concise language to express how they will APPLY their military strengths to land a job that can lead to a career for the life they want.

Houston introduced Edge4Vets in 2018 as a pilot and now is working with partners in its employer network – that includes Houston businesses as well as airport employers – to grow and expand the scope and reach of the program.

Part of this expansion includes bringing in Goodwill Industries and its Operation GoodJOBS program as a partner to provide wrap-around support to veterans. Edge4Vets registers participants through a recruiting effort with support from the City of Houston, the Texas Veterans Commission and local schools, then Edge4Vets refers those who register to Goodwill for preparation in advance of the workshop.

Following the workshop, Edge4Vets channels participants back to Goodwill for personal support to refine their Plan4Success, hone their resume, and follow up on job interviews they lined up at the Edge4Vets workshop.

The combination of career preparation and this enhanced wrap-around support provided through the Edge4Vets/Goodwill partnership is giving Houston Airport System a powerful “one/two punch” to add talented veterans to the HAS workforce to strengthen the airport for the future.

Celebrating – and Growing – the Airport Industry Workforce

For some, Labor Day (or Labour Day for our readers in Canada) is a much needed long weekend culminating with a festive backyard cookout.  For others – our industry included – Labor Day weekend marks the end of another record breaking summer travel season.

At its core, Labor Day is a time to recognize the important contributions of a productive workforce to communities and economies. Today, we celebrate the nearly 1.5 million people working at airports across North America who make flight possible.

The aviation industry workforce extends far beyond pilots, flight attendants, and baggage handlers.  Airports are proud to employ innovative leaders from all of the disciplines found at a Fortune 500 company. From accounting to IT and real estate to business development, an airport represents a full ecosystem of professionals.

Managing a workforce as diverse and complex as that of an airport is tricky.  It might even be the biggest challenge of our time, says Candace McGraw, CEO of the Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) and Chair of ACI-NA.

“I think the issue of workforce development and talent development is a huge challenge to us all,” McGraw said.  “Historically, we in the airport business are focused on air service development, contracts and leasing, operations and planning for the future physical footprint of our spaces. As much as we focus on the infrastructure of the runways, taxiways, etc., I think we need to double-down on our human capital infrastructure.”

That’s why CVG launched a strategic workforce collaborative late last year.

“We have brought together all the airport employers, from the air cargo side to the passenger airlines and everyone in between, to talk about the issues on which we can collaborate today to achieve real results—exposing young people to careers in aviation, solving the ever-stubborn issue of better connecting people to their jobs, and creating aviation career pathways on airport, and more,” McGraw said.

One of the key components of CVG’s workforce initiative includes the inclusion of military veterans who will transition into the civilian workforce at the end of their service.  By including the successful Edge4Vets program into their initiative, CVG is able to tap into a highly skilled and trained talent pool.

In 2014, ACI-NA partnered with Edge4Vets with the shared goal of connecting veterans with airports to place them in careers that utilize the valuable skills they learned while serving in the military. At these workshops, Edge4Vets also teaches military veterans the skills they need to market their skills and themselves to civilian employers. Many veterans do not know how to search for civilian jobs and how to communicate with employers after they leave the military.

“Many veterans have valuable skills that are beneficial to employers, but they sometimes have difficulty selling themselves,” said Tom Murphy, Edge4Vets’ founder. “People serving in the military learn to work as a team and they sometimes don’t think in terms of their individual accomplishments and skillsets.”

While the Edge4Vets program continues to grow across the United States with several successes, the program recently launched in Canada.  Edmonton International Airport (YEG) hosted the nation’s first Edge4Vets workshop in May of this year.

“Edge4Vets is such a win-win program because it not only helps to expand the skilled workforce available to our aviation industry, it also provides rewarding careers to those who have served and protected our country,” says YEG’s President and CEO Tom Ruth.

The success of Edge4Vets speaks directly to the needs of airports as they plan their workforce for the future.  Ensuring airports have the right team with the right talents at the right times requires coordination and collaboration across the airport complex.

“Even if technology shifts the world of work for different types of jobs, we must have qualified, skilled people in all of our regions to support all the functions that thriving airports require,” McGraw said.” This is true for training the right people for leadership roles as much as it is to think about those front-line positions.”

Get Involved

Is your airport interested in becoming an Edge4Vets partner? Airports across North America are partnering with Edge4Vets and ACI-NA to help connect veterans to aviation careers. Current participants include GSP, LAX, HOU, MIA, JFK, CVG, YEG and more.

Contact Tom Murphy to learn more about hosting a workshop in your community. Edge4Vets is offered by the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University. Learn more here.

GSP Leads Efforts to Hire South Carolina Veterans

Independence Day is more than fireworks and cookouts.  It’s a special day we celebrate liberty and those who have helped secure the freedom we cherish today.

Honoring our veterans is a top priority for the airport industry.  That’s why ACI-NA partnered with Edge4Vets in 2014 with the shared goal of connecting America’s – and now Canada’s – veterans with airports across the country to place them in careers that utilize the valuable skills they learned while serving in the military.

Earlier this year, Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP) collaborated with Edge4Vets and the Upstate Warrior Solution to host a workshop for the region’s veterans.

“We are proud to bring Edge4Vets to South Carolina,” said Dave Edwards, GSP’s president and CEO. “This will be a good opportunity for Upstate employers to identify talent while mentoring veterans transitioning into the workforce or those looking for new opportunities.”

Several companies participated in the workshop, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, FedEx, United Airlines, the Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, airport concessionaires and Clemson University.

“Many veterans have valuable skills that are beneficial to employers, but they sometimes have difficulty selling themselves,” said Tom Murphy, Edge4Vets’ founder. “People serving in the military learn to work as a team and they sometimes don’t think in terms of their individual accomplishments and skillsets. Some also become so accustomed to using the language and lingo used in the military that civilian employers might not understand what they are saying. These slight adjustments can make a difference in a veteran landing a job and getting on a desirable career path.”

Get Involved

Is your airport interested in becoming an Edge4Vets partner? Airports across North America are partnering with Edge4Vets and ACI-NA to help connect veterans to aviation careers. Current participants include GSP, LAX, HOU, MIA, JFK, CVG, and more.

Contact Tom Murphy to learn more about hosting a workshop in your community. Edge4Vets is offered by the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University. Learn more here.