COVID and lockdown have been hard on the country. Many have lost their livelihoods and, although the economy is recovering, it is not as easy as going back to your old employer and getting right back into the swing of things. Some employers might have adapted to the decreased number of personnel, while others might have shut down entirely. Whatever the situation, circumstances have changed, and you could be looking at a very different job market than at the beginning of 2020.
Perhaps your skills are outdated, or you are trying to make a move to something new. In any case, you need new skills that employers are on the lookout for. You would go to school and retrain, but you’ve either fully utilized or no longer qualify for any Veteran educational benefits. You would pay for it yourself, but you’ve had to go through your savings just to get to the other side of lockdown, and no employer is willing to train you up for the job. We’re just getting out of lockdown, but there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
Fortunately, there’s a program for you: the Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP). This program is designed to train Veterans up for high-demand jobs if they have become unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
VRRAP can cover up to 12 months of tuition and fees, as well as a housing allowance that matches the rates of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. This will cover the education or training costs for any job that is considered ‘high-demand’ by the Department of Labor, including many courses and providers covered by the GI Bill and VET TEC program. Bachelor’s and Graduate degrees are not covered under VRRAP.
The funds are paid directly to the educational or training institution. Half is paid when the Veteran begins their course. Another quarter is paid upon course completion, and the final 25% is paid once the Veteran finds employment in the field of study. As a result, institutions are incentivized to ensure you will receive the proper training.
In order to qualify for the VRRAP program, you must be:
- Between 22 and 66 years old
- Unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
- Ineligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill; Montgomery GI Bill; Veteran Readiness and Employment; Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance; or Veterans Educational Assistance Program (if you transferred all GI Bill benefits to dependents, then you are eligible)
You must also NOT be:
- Rated as totally disabled and unable to work
- Currently enrolled in any federal or state jobs programs
- Receiving unemployment or CARES Act benefits
If you are eligible for this program, it is advised that you apply as soon as possible. VRRAP is currently capped at accepting 17,250 participants with a $386 million funding limit. The program also has a hard stop on taking any more applications after December 11th, 2022. If the funding or enrollment limits are reached before that date, further applications will be turned down before December. As a result, it is advised that you apply now rather than later.
Getting these essential skills now will allow you to take advantage of these growing fields and leverage months of training into a decades-long career. As the economy leaves COVID-19 in the rearview mirror, opportunities will open up. Many others have hit hard times over lockdown and will be racing to compete with you. Make sure you have the skills to set yourself apart.