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Research Questions

  1. What is the experience with the Employer Partnership Program through September 2010?
  2. How can the Army Reserve Components make hiring and retaining reservists more attractive to civilian employers?
  3. Where are areas for further collaboration with employer partners?

Members of the Army Reserve and National Guard balance two careers, and the bulk of their earnings come through civilian employment. The employment of reservists can present challenges to employers, however, given the likelihood that employees will face at least one year-long mobilization during their Army careers. The Army Reserve launched the Employer Partnership Program (EPP) in 2008 to help address these challenges, and it has since been extended to the Army National Guard and the reserve components of other services. One of the program's primary features is a job search website for reserve component service members, veterans, and family members that allows employer partners to recruit employees from this population. To assess experience with the program through September 2010, this study analyzed data collected from the EPP's job search website, conducted case studies of Army Reserve units located in four metropolitan areas, and interviewed program stakeholders. Low usage of the EPP website suggests the need to increase outreach efforts and improve the job search experience. The study also developed metrics that can be used to monitor the website's performance and to determine whether additional resources should be invested in it. Collaboration with employer partners could be improved by providing visibility of applicants coming through the EPP website, allowing employers to reach out to website users, and providing information about the types of guard and reserve units located near the employer.

Key Findings

Reducing Unemployment

  • During the data-collection period, website usage was relatively low, considering the likely number of unemployed reservists.
  • Publicity attracted more website visitors, but the percentage of visitors who clicked on job listings and filled out a registration form remained steady, at about only one-third of website visitors.
  • The program had no direct way to measure the number of users who found jobs through the EPP website.

Improving Linkages Between Military and Civilian Occupations

  • The crosswalk that the EPP website used to map from military to civilian occupations was problematic. Military occupations with similar skills sometimes got very different search results from the website.
  • RC service members may lack civilian credentials for jobs they are capable of performing in fields such as medicine, trucking, and vehicle repair. RC service members may not know or be able to communicate that they have the skills required for civilian jobs.

Establishing Closer Working Relationships with Civilian Employers

  • Some employer partners expressed frustration that they did not know which job applicants came to them through the EPP website and could not reach out to potential applicants through the site.
  • Program Support Managers (PSMs), who work to raise awareness of and participation in the program among soldiers and their families and among employers, are the primary means of outreach to these groups, but the relatively few PSM positions and frequent personnel turnover caused this resource to be less effective.
  • Changes in the design and management of the EPP, including turnover in the headquarters staff, caused confusion and concern among former program staff, employer partners, and PSMs.

Recommendations

  • EPP program staff should establish metrics for website usage, set goals to increase usage, and monitor progress against those goals. These metrics should include number of website visitors and users as a percentage of unemployed RC service members; number of website users (who click on jobs and register to use the site) as a percentage of website visitors; number of visits and jobs viewed per user; and program costs per visitor, user, and RC service member hired through the website.
  • EPP staff should consider what EPP's unique role should be among other Army, Department of Defense, and government programs that provide employment services to RC service members, veterans, and family members, and explore opportunities to leverage and share resources with these programs.
  • To increase synergies between reserve and civilian occupations, EPP staff should improve the website's mapping of military occupation codes to civilian occupation titles across all reserve components.
  • EPP staff should take steps to establish closer relationships with employer partners, including improving visibility of applicants coming to employers through the EPP website and allowing employers to reach out to website users; mapping all RC units by location so that they can establish partnerships with local employers relevant to nearby unit types; and exploring strategic opportunities to benefit both the reserve components and employers by targeting occupations with high recruiting and/or training costs or with shortages of qualified personnel in both the military and civilian sectors.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Reducing Unemployment

  • Chapter Three

    Improving Linkages Between Military and Civilian Occupations

  • Chapter Four

    Establishing Closer Working Relationships with Civilian Employers

  • Chapter Five

    Recommendations

  • Appendix

    Additional Case Study Results

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Army and conducted by the RAND Arroyo Center.

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