ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala -- Employees at Anniston Army Depot can now advance their careers through the Upward Mobility Program. The program, available only to current depot employees, was developed by the command staff in an effort to provide qualified employees with opportunities for professional growth.
“The commander looked across the depot and saw a diverse group of personnel, many of whom are term employees with formal education and training, who could transfer into general schedule professional careers,” said Thyris Banks, chief of business and support operations, who leads the initiative. “The Upward Mobility Program was established to give those employees an opportunity that would not be possible with the standard merit promotion system.”
Employees not only have an opportunity to apply for permanent positions but positions that are progressive in nature, which is the case with all developmental assignments. “If the employee’s performance is up to par and they satisfy their training requirements, after a year, the employee could be promoted to the next grade. This could continue each year until they reach the full performance grade,” said Banks.
Currently, three positions have been filled with three additional positions in the final round of selection. Recent selections include an auditor in the Internal Review and Audit Compliance Program office and two maintenance parts specialist in the Directorate of Production Management.
Positions for the program were identified by directors across the depot after reviewing needs in their area. Once those positions were determined, a hiring process was established and the command created a memorandum that outlined the objectives and goals of the program. Town hall sessions were used to communicate those goals and objectives to the workforce.
The process for applying for these positions has been streamlined. Applicants do not apply via USAJobs. Instead, employees are notified of availabilities via a bulletin system sent in an all user email. These bulletins contain all information needed to apply, including position qualifications, supporting documents required and an email address where applicants will submit documentation. “We are working to make this a speedy effort and get selections done as soon as possible,” Banks said.
Stephen Hudgins, who was recently selected as an auditor through the program, also emphasized how quickly the selection process was completed. “Once I applied, the process went really smoothly and very fast,” he said. “Within two weeks of accepting my official offer, I started my position.” Hudgins, a former Army Substance Abuse Program administrator, began his position on February 1. He says he is enjoying his new position and is grateful for the training and guidance he is receiving.
The selection process also strives to be as fair as possible. The Civilian Personnel Advisory Center determines qualification and eligibility. Once eligibility is determined by CPAC, applicants’ information is sent to a panel with redacted resumes. Panelists also work with hiring managers to develop metrics and questions that are used during the interview process.
Once employees are selected for positions, they are required to complete a training program, which is developed by the hiring managers. “This was created for those employees who have education, training and capabilities that are not fully utilized in their current position. The hope is that their talent and potential can be further developed through the Upward Mobility Program with increased training and experience,” said Shelly Goodman, branch chief for the quality assurance division and member of the panel committee.
ANAD is one of the few installations offering a program for career advancement, making it very unique and beneficial to employees. According to Banks, the program also supports the commander’s Project Inclusion initiative.
Employees interested in positions through the Upward Mobility Program are encouraged to pay close attention to emails as bulletins will be sent as positions become available. Applicants should also read bulletins carefully before applying to ensure they meet all requirements. “Don’t be afraid to apply,” said Hudgins. “People often don’t apply because they don’t think they’ll be chosen, but I say go for it. Because if you don’t apply, you will never know.”
Those who work closely with the program are already encouraged by the response the program has received thus far. “We have had a tremendous response and interest in the program and employees seem excited for the potential opportunities for career advancement,” said Goodman. “My hope for the program is that we continue to identify exceptional employees who will benefit from these career development and growth opportunities. In turn, Anniston Army Depot will benefit from utilizing the growth and potential of current employees.”