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SkillsBridge program gives transitioning Airmen the upper hand

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MARCOA Media
Story by SrA Monet Villacorte on 08/13/2019
LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. The Education Office at Luke offers a program for Airmen who are transitioning from active duty to the civilian workforce, it's called the SkillsBridge program.
The SkillsBridge program provides Airmen career opportunities, networking and connecting functions that are vital to successful employment. Airmen will have the chance to be released from duty up to six months before their date of separation to perform unpaid internships, on-the-job training and apprenticeships with a civilian company of their choosing.
Tina Clicquot Mack, an education service specialist with the Education Office, explained although this program is beneficial to Airmen who are interested in signing up, there are steps that must be followed to ensure the member and unit have a full understanding of what the program entails.
"Airmen who want to be a part of the program will make an appointment or walk-in to the education Office and speak with one of our education counselors and we will give them a description of the program, what it entails, what their eligibility is," said Clicquot Mack. "We will also provide them a vetting checklist and different resources they can use to find companies to engage in the program."
The Department of Defense initiative is available to Airmen who are interested in opportunities nationwide
"The program does not have to take place in the local area," said Clicquot Mack. "The member can get permission from their squadron commander to be approved for permissive temporary duty to go more than 50 miles from Luke to participate in the SkillsBridge program."
Separating Airmen have found opportunities working at vet clinics, realty companies, and regional parks. About 20 percent of the Airmen that go through the program are offered a job at the same company.
"It helps them because not all military jobs will transfer to the civilian sector," said Elton Madden, chief of education, training, and testing. "It also gives them the chance to do something that they've always wanted to do but maybe that job wasn't available when they came into the Air Force."
Airmen interested in participating in the program need to be at least 180 days out from their separation date but are able to get general information anytime from the education office.
"It's ok for them to come see us in advance to get some ideas," said Madden. "Even if it's a year out, we can still give them information to help them decide what they want to pursue when they get out."
For more information on the SkillsBridge program or to get education advice, contact the education office at 623-856-7723.

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