A Partnership That PaYS - Best Practices
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A Partnership That PaYS

Written By: Mary Sedor

Article Date: 12-01-2006
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

Warren Cat has partnered with the U.S. Army to recruit technicians.

Ask any dealer to name some of the biggest problems he's facing and more than likely that list will include technician recruitment and retention. In the midst of one of the worst technician shortages in memory, dealers are looking for technicians in what seem to be unlikely places.

One dealer who has reached out and found a unique way to plan for future hiring needs is Warren Cat, the Midland, Texas-based Caterpillar dealer. Two years ago, Warren Cat joined the Army Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS) program.

The PaYS program provides men and women who are entering the Army with an opportunity to prepare for their futures in America's workforce while they serve their country. It provides career paths for soldiers and meets industry needs at the same time.

"When a new recruit expresses an interest in working in the construction equipment industry," says Randy Levitt, vice president of product support for Warren Cat, "the military trains them in the skills they'll need. This is a cooperative program; the Army is trying to match its training program to meet our needs, while meeting its own needs."

PaYS matches trained men and women with employers that offer job opportunities after they complete their Army obligations. The Army provides the soldier with hands-on training and field instruction to prepare them for a specific career field, such as construction equipment technician.

"Some soldiers worry they won't be able to find a job when they get out, but the PaYS program helps alleviate that stress," says Levitt. "Plus, the program points them in our direction so eventually we'll be able to hire experienced technicians. It's a career path, so soldiers know they'll have a future when they complete their military commitments."

When the soldier joins the Army, they choose a career path and a corresponding partner company.

In the case of soldiers that have indicated an interest in becoming equipment technicians and in possibly working for Warren Cat, Warren Cat is notified of their educational achievements and certifications. Warren Cat can then provide feedback on courses that would be beneficial to a future in the equipment industry.

In the end, Warren Cat is under no obligation to hire anyone in the PaYS program, but they are asked to provide them with a hiring preference.

"While we're still a year or two away from seeing results," says Levitt, "we recognize that this is a good way to prepare for technician needs in the future. We realize this is a long-term commitment. It's not a quick fix - it's a solution."

Future Hiring Needs

The PaYS job database enables partner companies to plan for future staff requirements up to eight years into the future. Warren Cat enters the number of positions available at their branch locations each year until 2012. The number of positions can be increased or decreased.

If Warren Cat enters four machine service technicians for each year from 2004 to 2013 at one of their locations, the Army will only allow four people per year to select the dealership for that location. Of those four, typically only two will complete their Army training and go through an interview process with Warren Cat.

Partners can also use PaYS to fulfill short-term hiring needs. The database also includes U.S. Army Reserves soldiers. Once a soldier in the Army Reserves has completed the initial training, which varies from six to 18 months, the soldier is available for employment with a partner company.

The men and women who participate are discharged as fully equipped, functioning technicians, ready to move into the industry, having had courses that include hydraulics, engine repair, troubleshooting and basic education.

"This program allows us to bring technicians in with three or more years of hands-on experience," says Levitt. "Once they are full-time, we'll put them into our normal training curriculum; they complete a skills assessment to determine where they need additional training."

As an indirect result of the PaYS partnership, Warren Cat recently hired a service manager that had served 20 years in the military.

"We didn't find him through the PaYS program but because of our connections with PaYS," says Levitt. "We've gained access to people that being discharged, and we can recruit them."

Becoming A Partner

The benefits of becoming a PaYS partner are many, from gaining experienced technicians to saving training dollars. Some of the requirements for becoming a PaYS partner include:

Interested companies must have a minimum of 500 employees. This quantity provides a company size that can reasonably forecast employee needs two to eight years into the future.

All positions must be for full-time permanent employment. Positions reflecting a 40-hour work week with a classification of temporary do not apply.

Companies must establish and maintain contact with Army PaYS soldiers and provide priority interview consideration.

Becoming a PaYS partner requires no monetary or time commitment, and there is no obligation to hire the soldiers at the end of their enlistment terms.

"We think this is worth attention," says Levitt. "We think there is merit in helping to support our troops by employing them as the come out of the Army and integrating them into the workforce.

"We want to help the young people defending our country and to reward them tangibly by giving them a chance to be a part of our organization."

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