Career on track: Fort Jackson Soldiers get trained on ACT
July 20, 2011
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Soldiers spoke and the Army listened. Now there is a new tool aimed at helping them track their Army careers.
The Army Career Tracker is a new system born out of a 2006 Army Review of Education and Training of Army Leaders, or RETAL, study which recognized a large need in the lives of Soldiers attempting to plan a career in the Army.
“In the RETAL, 2,600 Soldiers were surveyed and two of the major things that came out of that was the first-line leaders were challenged in being able to provide the right information to Soldiers when it comes to their career progression,” said Master Sgt. Penny Bell with TRADOC’s Institute of Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development. Bell was one of the presenters during a brief training to Fort Jackson Soldiers this week. “Also, when referencing the Internet, Soldiers found it hard to find information pertinent to their career stages because there was just too much out there and it was overwhelming for them to figure out what was right for them.”
Once these hurdles were identified, the Army chief of staff issued a directive for the inception of a centralized program and ACT was formed.
ACT is a web-based portal, similar to AKO, where Soldiers and civilians can establish career goals and share them with mentors and leaders in their unit. Different tabs and tools allow Army personnel to see many career-related opportunities such as future job positions, civilian education courses and military training courses and compare their current training level to that of their peers.
In the past, Soldiers were left to forge a career path on their own, without a true guideline. TRADOC and technology firm IBM joined forces to bring a new alternative to Army personnel.
“When I was in the service I had to go into the (personnel) office and flip through clipboards and DA (pamphlets) to find out what positions and training were available,” said Anne Szymanski, an IBM marketing representative who was also part of the training. “This system broadens your visibility and access to information on your career.”
Szymanski and Bell conducted the training and information sessions for noncommissioned officers Tuesday at the Soldier Support Institute. ACT is currently only available for enlisted personnel in the active, Reserve and National Guard components. In August, the capabilities will be released for DA civilians; officers will have access to the system in September. Szymanski said the portal was designed for use by the new generation of technologically savvy Soldiers.
“The Soldiers we have today love Facebook and Twitter. They want immediate access to information and this is a way for us to bring career information to them quickly,” Szymanski said.
NCOs who attended the training immediately saw the benefits of the new system for both Soldiers and leaders.
“Before, it’s always been a secret. If you didn’t get selected for promotion you were just left to wonder, and it was just word of mouth as to why you were passed over,” said Adjutant General Proponent Sgt. Maj. Demont Roberson. “Now you can see everything and, it’s plain what needs to be done to get where you want to go.”
Roberson also said leaders will be able to do more personalized and beneficial developmental counseling for Soldiers by using ACT.
“You can use this tool for more in-depth counseling and development because you get an accurate picture of what they are trying to achieve and help them get there,” Roberson said. “Now Soldiers will look at you, at their leadership involvement and know they are truly being taken care of.”
Users can log into the ACT at: https://actnow.army.mil.