Las Vegas — At the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE), held Sept. 7-11 in Las Vegas, the Baking Industry Alliance (B.I.A.) announced its partnership with the United Service Organizations (USO) Pathfinder program to create an additional “force behind the forces” by generating job placement in the baking industry for veterans transitioning out of military service.

“With the baking industry’s community driven mindset and the current workforce challenges, the B.I.A. realized it could help connect military service members and families with a variety of employment options in the baking industry through a partnership with USO Pathfinder,” said Christina Donnelly, staff liaison, B.I.A.

Approximately 250,000 service members transition every year. With 19 sites around the country, USO Pathfinder helps individuals during the 12 months before and 12 months after retirement to ensure a smooth passage out of military service and into civilian life. Its mission is “to strengthen America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country throughout their service to the nation,” according to the organization.

While the USO Pathfinder program focuses on eight areas — education, employment, housing, VA benefits, legal, financial readiness, volunteerism and family strength and wellness — employment is one of the most important elements for service members.

“The cost of turnover is very high, both for you and for the service member,” Charles Bailey, site manager, USO, told IBIE attendees. “That’s part of why we exist, to coach them through the transition process and reduce the likelihood of turnover.”

Chad Hartman, vice-president, development and corporate alliance, USO, challenged baking companies and allieds interested in the program to have a developed understanding of what they want to gain from the USO Pathfinder program.

“Employment opportunities are all over,” he said. “The individuals coming from the military community bring a lot of leadership perspective and flexibility.”

Already, baking companies are building bonds with the military community and creating employee engagement through various programs. With the B.I.A. partnership, there are opportunities for more baking companies to get involved.

“Our ability to create a vetted rolodex of organizations like yours that are incredible organizations with cultures that fit the people that we serve, and on the flipside, for us to essentially create a pipeline of people who know how to work hard and get the job done is really invaluable,” Mr. Bailey said. “It’s a powerful organization. It’s a powerful program. We really look forward to the partnership."

About the Baking Industry Alliance

A group dedicated to harnessing their respective resources and expertise to address industry-wide issues in the baking industry. Members include: the American Bakers Association, AIB International, the American Society of Baking, the Allied Trades of the Baking Industry, the Bakery Equipment Manufacturers and Allieds, the Grain Foods Foundation, and the North American Millers’ Association.