By Lisa Baertlein
(Reuters) - Starbucks Corp is looking for thousands of good men - and women.
The world's biggest coffee chain said on Wednesday it would commit to hiring at least 10,000 veterans and spouses of active military in five years.
It also said five new and existing U.S. Starbucks cafes on or near military bases will share a portion of each sale with non-profit organizations that help veterans re-enter the workforce.
Many U.S. companies have committed to hiring thousands of military veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Companies can find workers of different skill levels among veterans and can also claim tax credits of up to $9,600 until year-end for each hire as part of a work opportunity program.
On the same day as Starbucks, U.S. telecom giant AT&T Inc said it doubled its hiring goal for veterans to 10,000 from 5,000 for the next five years as part of a commitment to equal opportunity employment.
Seattle-based Starbucks said it will have specialized recruiters to match the unique skills of veterans and their spouses with company jobs.
"This demographic represents one of the most underutilized talent pools in our country," said former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, now a Starbucks director.
Announced ahead of the U.S. Veterans Day holiday on November 11, Starbucks' new effort aims to expand and strengthen its existing mentoring program through the Armed Forces Network.
"This is not only about hiring baristas," Chief Executive Howard Schultz told Reuters.
Starbucks is seeking individuals with experience in everything from leading teams to building and managing complex, global supply chains, Schultz said.
As the company expands globally and gets coffee and tea from around the globe, veterans offer international experience and foreign language skills, Gates added.
"They bring an understanding of other cultures and they're accustomed to working with diverse and international partners," Gates said.
Starbucks employs roughly 134,000 people in the United States, including "thousands" of veterans and their spouses. It did not offer a more precise breakdown.
The five revenue-sharing stores near bases will donate 10 cents from every transaction, with a minimum annual gift of $100,000. The first two will be in San Antonio, Texas, and Lakewood, Washington. Donations from the stores will benefit Goodwill Industries International Inc programs Operation Good Jobs, in San Antonio, and Vested in Vets, in Lakewood.
(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles, Sinead Carew in New York and Patrick Temple-West in Washington DC; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)