Air Force woos workers

By 2007, two-thirds of the Air Force Materiel Command's information technology workforce will be eligible for retirement, and that's after many IT workers, scientists and engineers have left in recent years seeking greener pastures in the private sector.

But AFMC has launched some initiatives and is developing others to help ease the workforce transition and improve its recruitment and retention efforts, said Donna Williams, staffing and employee development specialist in AFMC's workforce shaping program office.

The command's greatest IT recruitment tool is touting the advanced technology that its personnel get to work with and develop. "We have the world's experts in things that might make a difference — national security," Williams said.

That's exactly what Ken Briggs wants to hear. Briggs, a software engineer in the materiel systems group enterprise solutions division, was a co-op student at AFMC in November 1999 and was hired full-time last summer. Briggs said the opportunity to work in AFMC's rapid prototyping workshops on everything from Extensible Markup Language to third-generation wireless technologies, along with the increased job security, made it easy for him to choose the Air Force over a "little more money" in the private sector.

AFMC also recently began conducting exit and entrance interviews with employees, Williams said. "We're hearing the process takes too long and that people had already been hired somewhere else" by the time the agency made a job offer.

AFMC is currently developing a Web site with job information for all 12 of its centers that should be operational by the fall of 2003. The current system forces people interested in a job to go to each base's site for listings, Williams said.

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