The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announces in a press release that it is launching two free training programs for service members and veterans.

According to the release, these programs—Accelerated Learning Programs (ALPs) and VA Learning Hubs—are designed to help transitioning service members and veterans learn skills, earn credentials, and advance in civilian careers following separation from service.

The release explains that the ALPs and Learning Hubs are part of VA’s Veterans Economic Communities Initiative (VECI), promoting education and employment opportunities for veterans through integrated networks of support in 50 cities. The VA launched the VECI program in response to President Obama’s August 2014 challenge to help veterans and families integrate with their communities and find meaningful jobs that can lead to economic success.

Under VA Secretary Robert McDonald’s MyVA transformation, VECI is now in place in cities across the United States, per the release.

“My message to transitioning service members is simple: Plan early and stay engaged, because transition is the mission,” McDonald says in the release.

“These two new resources provide no-cost opportunities for our transitioning service members and veterans to learn new skills and earn credentials, which can increase their competitiveness during their transition,” he continues in the release.

ALPs offer transitioning service members and veterans the opportunity to build on their training and technical skills gained through their military service, and earn certifications in high-demand fields, according to the release.

VA is piloting ALPs this summer with seven courses focusing on building skills and certifications needed to advance in high-demand careers in information technology (IT), as part of the President’s TechHire initiative. Each ALP course is offered at no cost and includes free referral and support services, the release continues.

The first ALP cohort includes courses covering a range of IT-related topics. According to the release, these courses include: Coding/Programming Boot Camps; 80+ IT Certifications in Hardware, Software, Networking, Web Services, and more; and Network Support Engineer Job Training and Certification.

Courses also include: Cybersecurity Training and Certification; IT Help Desk Job Training; and IT Boot Camps for Desktop Support and Windows Expertise.

The release explains that transitioning service members and veterans from any era are invited to apply to their choice of courses. Applications will be accepted starting August 17, 2015.

Since seats in the pilot cohort are limited, applicants are encouraged to apply early, the release notes.

ALPs do not involve use of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Students are able to participate in these programs while also pursuing other programs of study using Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. Visit the ALP website to learn more about each program and apply, per the release.

The release explains that VA is also launching Learning Hubs in 27 cities across the country this year in partnership with the American Red Cross, The Mission Continues, and Coursera, an online education platform.

Transitioning service members and veterans can take advantage of both online and in-person study. Each week, online course modules will be completed outside the classroom while class sessions, led by Learning Hub facilitators, provide opportunities to discuss course materials with peers, hear from subject matter experts, and network. Upon completion of the program, service members and veterans may elect to receive one free verified certificate issued by Coursera, the release continues.

For more information about the VECI or to learn more about VA ALPs and Learning Hubs, contact [email protected].

[Source: Department of Veterans Affairs]