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Redstone set to hire hundreds
Workers declining BRAC transfers mean high-paying posts to open

By Eric Fleischauer
eric@decaturdaily.com 340-2435

The less successful the Army is in persuading its civilian employees to transfer to Redstone Arsenal, the greater the bonanza for North Alabama job hunters.

Hundreds of high-paying jobs will open at Redstone as a result of government employees declining to transfer with their jobs, which moved to Redstone as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure process.

About 185 of those jobs will open as soon as January, with many more through 2011.

Engineers are the Army's most sought-after civilian commodities, said Karen Bandera, deputy for civilian personnel for Army Materiel Command, but many other job openings will surface. Among them: logistics management, financial management, management analysis, program management and information technology.

Starting pay

Starting pay for the jobs ranges from $53,000 to $105,000.

For those in college or considering returning, Bandera pushed the value of an engineering degree.

"If engineering is not the right field for them, business management degrees work well," Bandera said. "Also information technology, if they're interested in computers."

Bandera works at Army Materiel Command, but she said the hiring needs, and the application methods, are similar in other commands impacted by BRAC.

Applicants have time to get their resumes in order. While most BRAC hiring will begin in 2008, Bandera predicts it will continue into 2012. She expects the major hiring surge at Army Materiel Command to take place in August 2010, the deadline for its employees to make the transfer to Redstone.

Benefits are excellent. Health insurance includes vision and dental coverage. Civilians can use child-care facilities at Redstone. Civilian employees also have liberal vacation time and retirement benefits.

Transfer incentives

To ease the BRAC transition, Bandera said, the AMC offered incentives for its employees — most of them are in Northern Virginia or D.C. — to retire early. Army Materiel Command will replace the 185 employees who have indicated a willingness to retire early from Redstone.

That hiring, Bandera said, will take place in January or February.

Ambitious goal

The Army is desperate to transfer as many of its civilian employees to Redstone as possible. Army Materiel Command's goal is to transfer 50 percent of its personnel with their relocated jobs.

That goal is ambitious. Historically, only 15 to 20 percent of employees affected by BRACs agree to a transfer.

The first major transfer in this BRAC tracked that percentage. Of 187 Space and Missile Command jobs moved to Redstone, only 27 jobholders opted to leave the D.C. area.

"The reason, of course, that we're trying to hit that (50 percent) goal is that these are the people with the skills and knowledge (to do the job)," Bandera said. "The second part is to save us from recruiting."

Bandera's efforts have national importance.

"The critical point," said Robert Harrison, an executive at U.S. Army Materiel Command, at a BRAC conference recently, "is to make sure we support our forces at war. We can't afford to have lapses."

The more personnel who agree to transfer to Redstone, the more effectively the nation can support its troops during the transition.

While the Army's efforts may be in opposition to those of area job hunters, there will be openings even if the Army sells far more of its employees on North Alabama than it expects.

By the end of this year, 1,032 government jobs will have moved to Redstone. Another 1,756 will move in 2008; 232 in 2009; 1,600 in 2010 and 1,100 in 2011.

Even the Army's most optimistic estimates suggest many of those jobs will be vacant, their previous holders electing not to transfer.

Hiring pressure will be intense. Along with the government jobs, Huntsville will see an influx of an estimated 5,000 defense contractor jobs.

The Huntsville-Decatur area has less than 4 percent unemployment. Unemployment among engineers is essentially zero.

If you are looking for a job, though, how do you apply?

"Applying for a government job is not the easiest thing in the world," Bandera said.

She said the best way to start the application process for upcoming job openings is on the Internet. She recommended going to www.usajobs.opm.gov.

"There's a wealth of information there," Bandera said.

A related site permits prospective applicants to search out those civilian job openings at Redstone Arsenal.

It's at jobsearch.godefense.newjobs.com.

Even now, with BRAC not yet a significant issue, Redstone has almost 100 job openings listed. They range from "nurse educator" to "contract specialist" to "aerospace engineer."

The engineering jobs generally start around $80,000. Clerical jobs start in the $20,000 range.

Bandera said filling the jobs will require a community effort. She is optimistic.

"The wonderful thing about this community is that everybody bands together," Bandera said. "I'm on my fourth BRAC, and I've never seen communities pull together so much before. I think because of that we're going to be successful."

On the Net

To learn more about job openings at Redstone Arsenal:

www.usajobs.opm.gov or jobsearch.godefense.newjobs.com.

- Eric Fleischauer

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