By Col. Cleven
Jul. 17, 2009
In today’s economy, employers must make hard choices—including hiring and layoff decisions.
The stakes may never have been greater. So why are a growing number of companies partnering with the Army Reserve? The answer is simple: A pool of well-trained, highly skilled and dedicated potential applicants, trained in the Army’s finest schools and experienced in Army Reserve career fields that match their civilian occupations, are a competitive investment.
In tough economic times, companies need high-performance personnel who will deliver superior results when the workload is demanding and the hours are long.
The Employer Partnership Initiative, launched in April 2008, is a unique shared human capital strategy. It offers business leaders a no-cost direct link to Army Reserve soldiers for consideration for private-sector jobs.
Chief of the Army Reserve Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, a retired consumer goods operations executive, understands that competing with industry for the same talent does not make good business sense. He has asked employers to collaborate with him on how to share this skilled workforce through mutually beneficial arrangements.
Today, more than 400 partnerships with corporations, government institutions, professional associations, health care providers, nonprofit organizations and law enforcement agencies have already been signed in nearly every state. Employer partners include Fortune 500 companies, medical centers, local police departments, correctional facilities, transportation companies, and state and federal agencies.
Army Reserve soldiers perform critical work in many areas of the economy, including health care, telecommunications, training, logistics, transportation, law enforcement, information technology, civil engineering and construction. The initiative links employer partners with skilled and tested soldiers, opening up civilian career opportunities that support their families, communities and the nation.
Stultz said he would like the Army Reserve to become the premier source of competitive talent and hopes employers see the Army Reserve as a reservoir of “skills, talent, and capabilities that the nation needs—both in uniform for us in the military and back in civilian life.
“We’re sharing that same talent, and we’re developing that same talent. Collaboration makes sense.”
His message is resonating. More companies and organizations across America actively seek out soldiers to fill a broad range of jobs that include accountants, human resource managers, medical professionals, city planners, attorneys, transportation specialists, teachers, law enforcement officers, engineers and communications network experts.
Right time for this economy
Making smart hires in this economy leaves little room for error. Being tested and trained by the Army Reserve provides a stamp of approval for many employers.
“It’s no secret that the Army has phenomenal training, phenomenal training facilities, and a good culture of training,” says Employer Partnership Initiative representative Philip Dana, who manages talent and human capital services at Sears Holding Corp. “And at corporate, we can embrace some of those skill sets, especially on the technical side.”
Through the initiative, employers can leverage their partnership with the Army Reserve to meet short- and long-term staffing needs, laying the foundation for the company’s success. Long range, this means saving companies time and money by synchronizing training requirements, licensing and credentialing procedures and recruiting strategies. For soldiers, it enables collaboration of their military and civilian career paths.
In today’s global security and economic environment, the nation depends upon the Army Reserve to provide the support required to sustain combat operations and aid those in peril. Soldiers cannot perform those duties if they do not have stable, competitive civilian careers.
At a recent Employer Partner Initiative conference at the Pentagon, David Miller, vice president of global policy and economic sustainability at Con-way Trucking, said his company views it “a national imperative that we create a sustainable all-volunteer military that coexists with the private sector so we are capable of providing the necessary careers for young people, not only in the military but also in the private sector; we think that the type of partnership being formed is a catalyst to do so.”
The dialogue facilitated by EPI between employers and the Army Reserve ensures that employers understand the operational demands and cycles. It also raises awareness within the Department of Defense of the challenges employers face in supporting their soldier-employees and creates an opportunity to find solutions.
For a soldier who receives notice that the company where he or she worked has folded, there is comfort in being able to go online at http://www.usar.army.mil/arweb/EPI/Pages/default.aspx and see who is hiring. They don’t have to worry about whether the employer will understand and support Reserve obligations as they will only encounter employers who value military service.
Army Reserve EPI program support managers interface directly with employer partners to inform them about soldier rotations. They are the first line of contact through which employers can surface issues and concerns.
While many soldiers will find placement via the Web site, some need additional assistance, such as resume support, job search strategy development or interview preparation. The program support managers are crucial for soldiers when this happens.
Appropriate controls are in place to protect individuals’ privacy when sharing recruiting, screening and personnel data. Additionally, EPI takes great care to be respectful of the employer’s hiring procedures and not tie up human resource managers’ time.
Those companies not hiring are participating with the Army Reserve in the development of a formal long-term human capital strategy to ease a firm’s ability to hire an Army Reserve soldier after military training so the employer doesn’t have to retrain the individual to civilian credentialing standards. The strategy is scheduled to be presented to the chief of staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and to Lt. Gen. Stultz at the beginning of November.
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