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Turning to Interns

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By Allan Holmes September 15, 2010

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Government Executive reports the Army is looking to hire hundreds of entry-level and midcareer contracting specialists and insource more than 4,000 acquisition-related jobs during the next five years.

The civilian contracting workforce of 5,300 employees is expected to grow about 25 percent, GE reports.

The Army is aware that there just isn't enough job seekers with those kinds of specialized skills, so they will have to turn to training workers. One way to do that is through an internship program.

In 2010, the Army brought on about 800 interns, and will hire another 70 next year, according to [Jeffery] Parsons, [executive director of the Army Contracting Command]. "We are in a huge developmental cycle right now," he noted. The program quickly leads to well-paying jobs for qualified participants. Interns, essentially entry-level personnel who go through a rigorous training program, typically move from the GS-7 to GS-9 pay grade within one year and could be quickly promoted afterward. Annual pay for senior procurement analysts, for which the Army has multiple vacancies in the Washington metro area, ranges from $98,798 to $163,275.

Internship programs may be part of the answer to the worker shortage in government. In a feature in the October issue of Government Executive magazine, Brittany Ballenstedt reports on a couple of internship programs that agencies have started that are showing promising results. An excerpt from the article:

. . . [A]gencies are struggling to fill even entry-level IT jobs. Many have created internships and woven the programs into hiring and succession plans, says the Partnership's McManus. He heads up an effort called FedRecruit IT, in which five government agencies have established or expanded their IT internship programs so they work as a pipeline to fill full-time positions.

"What the five agencies are trying to do is make an effort to tie internships to their job openings down the line," McManus says. "If I know we need 10 people who have cybersecurity experience and expertise, then what I need to do is make sure my interns are coming in with that type of expertise." How well the programs worked will become part of a guide on how agencies can improve entry-level IT recruiting and hiring, McManus says.

Look for the issue in two weeks.

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