MILITARY is giving a $2.5 million grant to the USO to provide training and career guidance for transitioning military personnel, military spouses and veterans, according to a Google release.

The grant will enable USO to incorporate the Google IT Support Professional Certificate into their programming and will be available at the USO Pathfinder Transition office on Fort Hood starting Oct. 1.

“We met Google earlier this year, and they were looking to do more for the military community,” said Kylee Durant, USO senior director of program development. “They came out, visited a USO location, had the chance to talk to service members and military spouses and that’s when they brought their IT certification program to us.”

The certification program is an eight-month-long program and is done entirely online, Durant said. All USO locations will carry information on how to enroll in the program, with the Fort Hood USO Pathfinder Transition office leading the way in the communities surrounding Fort Hood.

The Fort Hood USO Pathfinder Transition office is one of the original five opened in 2015 to assist service members in the transition from military to civilian employment.

“As you probably know, there is a huge shortage in the IT industry right now,” Durant said. “When service members get out, they don’t always want to do what they did in the military ... this is literally a pathway to employment.”

“The transition process is complex, and we hope Grow with Google’s new tools and resources can play a part in making that easier,” said Lisa Gevelber, Google’s vice president of Grow with Google. “At Google, we believe technology has the power to improve lives. With today’s announcement, we look forward to working with America’s transitioning service members to help them succeed in civilian life.”

The IT Support Professional Certificate is a first-of-its kind program with highly interactive content, developed by Google, which provides a direct route for those who successfully complete the program to get their information into the hands of employers. As the majority of IT support positions do not require a college degree but do require prior experience, this certificate is designed to give learners the training and experience they need to get a job in this growing field.

Learners who complete the certificate program will have the opportunity to share their information directly with more than 20 top employers who are looking to hire IT Support talent. The group of employers includes Cognizant, Bank of America, GE Digital, Hulu, Infosys, Intel, Kforce, MCPc, PNC Bank, RICOH USA, Sprint, TEKSystems, UPMC, Veterans United Home Loans, Google and more.

The announcement was part of a series of new tools and resources Google introduced to help create economic opportunity for transitioning service members and military spouses.

As of Monday, service members can search “jobs for veterans” on Google and then enter their military occupational specialty code to see relevant civilian jobs that require similar skills to those used in their military roles.

Staff writer David A. Bryant contributed to this report.

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