Could the Army Be an Untapped IT Recruiting Ground?

Large tech companies such as EMC are turning to discharged soldiers to fill their IT professional ranks.

EMC announced a partnership the week of June 2 with the U.S. Army's job placement arm, PAYS (Partnership for Youth Success). The PAYS program provides opportunities for secure, quality civilian jobs for members of the military who have finished their commitment.

In a time when nearly all of the largest tech employers are fretting over a shortage of qualified IT workers, whose ranks stand to be diminished soon by retiring Baby Boomers and an insufficient number of younger adults pursuing IT education and careers, these programs stand out.

PAYS is currently working with 14 other partners as well, to offer 2,200 jobs in 35 states to discharged services members.

According to EMC, few are aware of the untapped pool of talent the Army discharges yearly, even though thousands of people work with state-of-the-art technology on a daily basis while enlisted.

Furthermore, EMC said it sees the Army's values-discipline, work ethic and leadership-as traits it wants in its professional ranks.

"My job is to attract world-class talent to EMC, and it's hard to find great talent," Barbara Massa, senior director of recruiting services at EMC, told eWEEK. "The Army's program meets all of our business needs, and it ties into our larger effort to find new and creative ways to find people in a challenging market."

Captain Shannon Peck, a spokesperson for PAYS, believes that the program will have additional image benefits, as well.

"The American soldier is an abstract concept to most people," Peck said. "These partnerships allow us to break through that abstraction, so that people can say, 'I know a solider. He sits next to me at work.'"

Peck also said the Army stands to be a prime recruiting ground for any company because people come out with skills "you can't teach."

Peck said, "You call them soft skills, but I consider them foundation skills. You can't teach the art of working; it's not quantitative. But they'll be able to offer their companies leadership, self-discipline, initiative and team work, things that are much harder to train people on."