From the battlefield to the workforce

From the battlefield to the workforce 02:15

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - As part of a program to help military members land jobs, the skill of precision welding is being taught to a select number of U.S. Marines at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. CBS News visited the base where we saw active duty Marines attending class.

They've been allowed under a Pentagon program called SkillBridge to spend the last four months of their enlistments in full-time job training. Every one of the 15 Marines has a guaranteed job, thanks to a national shortage of skilled welders.

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Sgt. Damien Gilbert CBS News

"It's a dream job for me really," said Sgt. Damien Gilbert.

He said acceptance into the program was a huge weight off his shoulders.

"I'm an infantryman by trade, so there's not very many jobs out in the civilian world that transfer that skill over," said Sgt. Gilbert.

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A map showing the locations where the SkillBridge program is available CBS News

The Pentagon now allows 15 private employers access to 16 military bases nationwide. Microsoft is one of those companies and is looking for internet technology (IT) technicians.

"These young military people bring skills, work ethic, and this is the kind of employee that industry needs today," said Microsoft Vice President Chris Cortez.

Historically on base job training has been a tough sell in the military, because it does take the service member out of his or her unit during the last few months of their tour of duty.

But Marine Colonel Yori Escalante of Camp LeJeune calls that a small price to pay.

"It's not a burden on the economy," said Escalante. "It's not a Marine, it's not a service member, who transitions and doesn't have a job. "

Six months ago Sgt. Gilbert says he was terrified to be leaving the service. He's not afraid now.

"I have the opportunity to work hard and be proud of what I do," said Sgt. Gilbert.

For more information about SkillBridge visit www.dodskillbridge.com

  • Wyatt Andrews
    Wyatt Andrews

    Wyatt Andrews is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Washington D.C. He is responsible for tracking trends in politics, health care, energy, the environment and foreign affairs.