Attracting the Best. How the Military Competes for Information Technology Personnel
RAND NATIONAL DEFENSE RESEARCH INST SANTA MONICA CA
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The late-1990s peak in demand for information technology IT workers led private firms to respond by offering higher pay, enhanced on-the-job training opportunities, flexible work hours, and support for career development. The economic boom, the rapid growth of information technology as an occupation, and the record low unemployment rates in the private sector created recruiting and retention challenges for the military, which found itself depending more and more on information technology. In fact, during this same period, the military services embarked on initiatives to employ information technology in a host of ways that extended military capability on the battlefield, in intelligence, and in support activities. The services also implemented programs to certify a members expertise in information technology, e.g., in system administration or in networks. The convergence of IT trends in the public and private sector intensified the competition between the military and private corporations for IT workers. In addition, the militarys efforts to recruit into IT were complicated by several factors. The general increase in civilian wages outpaced the increase in military pay, and civilian wages in IT rose more quickly than in non-IT. Because military pay in IT and non-IT occupations remained similar to each other, the militarycivilian wage ratio not only declined overall, but it declined more for service personnel in IT occupations than in non-IT occupations. Furthermore, the budget for enlistment and reenlistment bonuses and educational benefits were low in the mid-1990s, contributing to recruiting difficulties and to retention difficulties in some specialties. These conditions-burgeoning private-sector demand for IT workers, escalating private-sector pay in IT, growing military dependence on IT, and faltering military recruiting -led to a concern that military capability was vulnerable to a large shortfall in IT personnel.
- Economics and Cost Analysis
- Personnel Management and Labor Relations