SAN ANTONIO -- Thirty-four Army civilians from Joint Base San Antonio's Fort Sam Houston graduate Feb. 15 from the first U.S. Army Civilian Education Course offered by the Army Management Staff College at the U.S. Army Installation Management Academy.

The course marks the initial venture of AMSC's year-old mobile training team away from its Fort Leavenworth, Kan., headquarters.

"Our first class offered at IMCOM is the Intermediate course," Mark Smith, a human resources specialist and IMCOM's CES registrar, said. "A team of instructors from Fort Leavenworth is here now and will return again to offer the CES Basic course in June and September. It's a great opportunity for our local Army civilians and with classes quickly filling, we're optimistic about hosting more in 2014."

The three-week course, which began Jan. 28, is full. In fact, the June Basic course is nearly full as well, thanks to IMCOM's effort to promote seats, seeking students from other commands. According to Army training staff, strong partnerships among the JBSA Army commands and U.S. Army Management Staff College, which oversees CES, benefit all involved. CES plays a critical role in career development at every level. All eight courses are in demand because they are prerequisites for admission into other military schools and directly impact a civilian employee's career progression.

"The Civilian Education System is increasingly important to employees for career progression and entrance into senior leader schools," said Smith. "It's also a chance to work cooperatively with people from a variety of backgrounds, meeting people you might rarely have the chance to and applying team building skills to multiple scenarios."

CES courses include online modules followed by classroom instruction. Until establishing the new mobile training teams, classroom time meant temporary duty at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Each course, ranging from foundation level to advanced, is tailored to specific pay grades. Central funding and flexible course delivery methods, like the mobile training team, makes CES more accessible to local Army civilians, according to developers.

While IMCOM invited AMSC and offered to host the course, Smith included all Army commands here in the request for slots. U.S. Army Medical Command headquarters Workforce Development Specialist, Ray Mendoza stressed that a mobile training team teaching the course on-site saves money and increases the number of available training slots.

"By partnering with IMCOM, all local commands and Army civilians benefit," Mendoza said. "This is a great opportunity for development and networking for civilians. It's also a less expensive way to get 34 people trained all at once. MEDCOM is sending 16 people over for training -- it would take several years to train 16 people, from the same installation, by sending them individually to Leavenworth."

For employees like Anthony Riddick of IMCOM G-6, participation in training is possible because travel is no longer necessary.

"This works out really well for me," Riddick said. "My wife is away right now and I've got two teenagers at home. I jumped at this opportunity."

Other recent changes in the program pertain to equivalency credits and transferrable credit for graduate and undergraduate students. "Previously, students who had taken equivalent training had to navigate through Army Training Requirements and Resources System or the Civilian Human Resource Training Application System and request a review in order to receive credit for similar training and development," said Smith.

The new equivalency process takes place automatically when students register, avoiding redundancy and ensuring each employee's Army professional development growth is accurately documented. The credit is granted regardless of when the equivalent course was completed. The previous ten-year cap on equivalency training is now obsolete, Smith added.

For employees enrolled in accredited graduate and undergraduate programs, some colleges and universities accept CES courses as transfer credits, depending on school and program of study. Webster, Phoenix and DeVry universities are among those that award credit for CES, according Smith.

For more information about the latest CES courses, visit the course catalog on the Army Training Requirements and Resource system at Civilians wishing to register for courses or request more detailed information about credit equivalency and transfers should contact their local training representative or call (210) 466-0286.