The general in charge of the Army Reserve has a deal for U.S. employers: If you agree to hire qualified employees, he'll help you recruit them.
Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz said the "Partnership for a Shared Workforce" initiative emerged as a way to help the reserves and the private sector attract young talent. Stultz said the concept was born of similar challenges facing the entities -- namely, that only about three in 10 young men ages 17-24 are fit to join the ranks of military or industry.
The reasons people are precluded from service -- from failure to meet educational or physical requirements, to a criminal background -- often are grounds for non-employment in the private sector too, the general said.
"Employers of America are having the same problem (as the Army)," Stultz said. "They're looking at that same work force out there and saying, 'How many of those kids can pass a drug test who don't already have some kind of conviction in their records? And how many have the aptitude to do the task we're needing in a much more technological age?'"
Among other enterprises, Stultz said, the partnership has received particular interest from America's trucking industry, where the average long-haul truck driver is more than 50 years old. Couple this aging work force with a shortage of qualified drivers, the general said, and young, employable talent is hard to pass up.
"I've got soldiers in my ranks that are truck drivers," Stultz said he tells employers at trucking companies. "They've already passed a drug test; they've already passed a background check; they've already passed a physical; they've already scored high enough on an aptitude test; and I've trained them how to drive a truck. All you've got to do is hire him."
Stultz said similar pitches to place reservists in civilian positions are gaining traction with industry employers around the country. He plugs the reserve's cadre of X-ray technicians to health care providers looking for help; he sells signal soldiers -- trained and experienced in using fiber optics -- to communications companies; he suggests military police troops for jobs in civilian law enforcement.
"We're getting a lot of synergy there now, being able to tell a potential soldier, 'How would you like to come work for us in the Army Reserve and go to work for this company in your local community at the same time?" he said.
The initiative hearkens back to Stultz's experience as a young man transitioning out of the active-duty Army in 1979 into a "dual-hatted" role as a reservist and a civilian employee at Proctor and Gamble.
Placing high value on the training and principles instilled in young officers, Proctor and Gamble and other companies eager to employ managers heavily recruited junior military officers, Stultz recalled.
"There were a lot of headhunter companies that would go around the military installations saying, 'If you're thinking about leaving active duty, let us talk to you,'" he said.
At the first national Proctor and Gamble meeting he attended, Stultz said, it was virtually a military homecoming. "Everybody there was like, 'Who were you with? What unit were you in? Where were you stationed?" he recalled. "Nowadays you really don't see that."
The general said he would like the two forces -- military and civilian -- to work together again as they did when he started at Proctor and Gamble, where Stultz, an operations manager, has worked for nearly three decades.
"Just like in 1979 when Proctor and Gamble was looking for new potential managers and they saw the military as a great source, I'm telling the employers of America that hasn't changed," Stultz said. "We produce some of the finest quality individuals in America.
"If we can get that partnership together, it's the way we're going to sustain this all-volunteer reserve force for the future," he said. "It's going to be us and the employers together succeeding."
By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
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