A personnel support specialist with the Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., speaks with a job candidate about opportunities during an Army job fair in 2018.

A personnel support specialist with the Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., speaks with a job candidate about opportunities during an Army job fair in 2018. (U.S. Army)

AUSTIN, Texas — The Army is looking for Texans ready to be all they can be in its civilian workforce.

The service is hosting an in-person hiring fair in Arlington on April 13 — a different approach to filling vacancies among its 240,000 civilian jobs. Its efforts have been stagnated by chronic shortages in some career fields and an aging workforce that has retired at record levels in the past three years, said Roy Wallace, assistant deputy chief of staff for Army G-1, which manages human resources and administrative support.

Instead of the standard advertisement on the government’s hiring website USA Jobs, the Army is taking its listings on the road to meet people where they are. The event at Globe Life Field — home to the Texas Rangers baseball team — can host up to 4,200 people at a time and will include on the spot job offers, up to $1 million in hiring bonuses and opportunities as near or as far from home as people crave.

“We recognize that most Americans don’t venture far from their hometown during their life, so you’ve got to go where they are,” Wallace said Wednesday during a call with reporters. “A lot of people like where they live, so offering opportunities where they come from is a key piece of what we’re looking at here.”

Arlington is part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, which has a population of more than 8 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It is the fourth-largest metro area in the country.

Texas was chosen for the first event because there are opportunities across the state at Forts Bliss, Cavazos and Sam Houston, logistics depots run by Army Materiel Command and various hubs of the Army Corps of Engineers and Army Futures Command. However, commands are coming from as far as Korea to fill shortages, Wallace said.

The event is the first of its kind, and the Army said it will be a template should it decide to hold more in the future.

In total, 43 commands are looking to hire thousands of people with the greatest need being child care workers, behavioral health care workers, cyber specialists and gate guards. Other jobs available include chemists, engineers, construction workers and educators.

There are 2,000 open positions alone in the Army for civilians with a background in social work or psychology, Wallace said.

Across the Defense Health Agency, not just the Army, the military has made a dent in its shortage of behavioral health workers, but more help is still needed.

The Government Accountability Office found in January 2023 that 43% of DHA’s authorized behavioral health jobs were vacant. One year later, DHA said more than 80% of its jobs are now filled, and it expects to get up to 90% in the coming months.

Wallace didn’t have an across-the-board number of vacancies in the Army civilian workforce because he said numbers can vary depending on location and career field. USA Jobs shows nearly 4,000 job listings online within the Department of the Army.

However, he said the service is pushing hard to bring in the new generation of federal workers because the average Army civilian is in his or her late 40s.

“We need to make sure that we’re bringing in young people, training them up and moving them into positions where they can gain more experience,” Wallace said.

The Army isn’t alone in fighting an aging force. Across the federal government slightly more than 7% of permanent, full-time employees are younger than 30 compared to more than 19% in the private sector, according to the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit that advocates for building a better government.

Those interested in attending can learn more about the event and register in advance at Recruiters for the active-duty Army, ROTC programs, National Guard and Reserve will also be on site for those interested in military service.

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Rose L. Thayer is based in Austin, Texas, and she has been covering the western region of the continental U.S. for Stars and Stripes since 2018. Before that she was a reporter for Killeen Daily Herald and a freelance journalist for publications including The Alcalde, Texas Highways and the Austin American-Statesman. She is the spouse of an Army veteran and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism. Her awards include a 2021 Society of Professional Journalists Washington Dateline Award and an Honorable Mention from the Military Reporters and Editors Association for her coverage of crime at Fort Hood.

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