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U.S. Army hopes to partner with Billings businesses amid worker shortage

Posted at 5:52 PM, May 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-12 10:32:03-04

BILLINGS — Employers across Montana have felt the effects of the worker shortage, and Billings is no exception. Representatives from the U.S. Army met with local businesses Wednesday in hopes of partnering with employers for their Partnership for Youth Success program.

Maria Gnecco is the manager of the talent acquisition team for Billings Clinic.

“I would say the shortage we’ve been feeling is more on the clinical side,” Gnecco said.

COVID has not helped. Nurses and other health care workers left their jobs in droves at hospitals nationwide during the pandemic. Back in December, some nursing units at Billings Clinic were only 60% staffed.

“We are exactly because of that, looking for different opportunities to bring talent in the organization,” Gnecco said.

Things are looking up. The U.S. Army is hoping to partner with Billings Clinic and about a dozen other major employers in Yellowstone County to help fill those open positions.

“About 100,000 leave the Army every year. Our job is to make them successful when they land back either in their hometowns or where they want to be,” said U.S. Army TRADOC Commanding Gen. Paul Funk.

The program is called PaYS, or Partnership for Youth Success. It benefits both the Army and Montana companies.

If anyone signs up to serve their country through the program, they’re guaranteed a job interview with participating companies.

“It provides quality applicants to those corporations and also has those organizations provide interview opportunities with soldiers,” said the Commander of U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion, Lt. Col. John Lamkin.

Part-time Army or National Guard reservists qualify, as do Army recruits and those leaving the service.

“We have a whole network of people that are among the million active Reserve and Guard that are in the Army, that will complete their service and will be looking for other opportunities,” Lamkin said.

John Brewer, CEO and president of the Billings Chamber of Commerce, thinks the opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time.

“With such low unemployment opportunities right now, 1.7% unemployment (in Yellowstone County), it really means a lot to our businesses to be able to find talent, recruit talent,” Brewer said.

Gnecco with Billings Clinic is already all for it.

“It’s an opportunity for retiring soldiers or people from the Army, but for us as an employer, it brings to the table those skills and that unique perspective of people who have that experience,” Gnecco said.

A unique partnership benefiting both local employers and those who’ve served.